The close sidekick of fashion designer and suspected anti-semite John Galliano had seven grams of cocaine in his system when he died in Paris four years ago—but a high-reaching cover-up labeled it a simple heart attack, reported yesterday's Sunday Times. Since 2007 it's been publicly maintained that Steven Robinson—Galliano's right-hand man at Dior for 11 years—died at 38 with no outside involvement. In fact, he had paid almost $750 for cocaine to a Senegalese dealer named Alassane Seck, who was subsequently sentenced to six years in jail for Robinson's manslaughter. Stringent French privacy laws ensured no journalists attended the trial—at which Galliano gave evidence—and no court documents were released. Now the lawyers who represented Seck claim this was done to protect some powerful establishment figures: "My client was supplying cocaine to some of the biggest names in Paris," said Francois-Henri Blistene. Another legal source added, "It smacks of a major cover-up. The reputation of both Galliano and Dior would have been sullied if this had been made public, as would the names of numerous important public figures who bought drugs from Seck." Most of Seck's alleged clients remain hidden, but Blistene mentioned one with startling connections: Francois Baudot was cultural adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, and friendly enough with French First Lady Carla Bruni to be godfather to her son. Baudot killed himself last year. Galliano, 50, whose reputation is now thoroughly sullied anyway, told his antisemitism trial in June how Robinson's death increased his reliance on anti-depressants and alcohol, which eventually led to his offensive drunken remarks in two bars and his dismissal from Dior in March. He is thought to have attended Arizona rehab The Meadows. The verdict on his case is due next month—with a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
Alcoholism's status as a bona fide disability looks set to go on trial in Florida: Ex-research communications director Frank Stephenson is suing Florida State University—his employer of 28 years—for $75,000 over his unceremonious dismissal in September 2010. His attorney, Sidney Mathew, said that Stephenson's habit of "self-medicating with alcohol" for depression was well known by FSU, but "They singled him out and threw him away like an old shoe." His complaint states: "Plaintiff Frank H. Stephenson had the disability of alcoholism, characterized by a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited one or more of his major life activities, including his ability to work." Stephenson's problems escalated in early 2009, when he hired one Elizabeth Bettendorf as an Associate Editor at the FSU publications office that he ran. Bettendorf soon complained to the personnel department that her boss admitted to having memory lapses because of his alcoholism and had also been abusive and bullying toward her and others. Stephenson says he was assured his job was safe after this complaint—but was suddenly fired a month later and escorted from the campus. His lawsuit holds that he "was protected against discrimination in employment with FSU because he was an individual with a current alcohol dependence problem who could perform the essential function of the job he held and whose alcohol dependence problem did not present a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace." The Americans with Disabilities Act offers protection from discrimination to alcoholics. But Fix legal expert Michael Cohen, Director of the Florida Lawyers Assistance Program, warned of the limitations of such protection in his video response to a reader's question earlier this year: "There is no protection under the [federal] ADA if you are an addict or an alcoholic that's actively using."
Teairra Mari, the 23-year old R&B and Hip-Hop singer who released Don't Make Me Cause a Scene back in 2009, proved on Friday that it was no idle threat. Not content with rear-ending the car in front with her silver Infiniti on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills around 3 am—while reportedly so drunk she could hardly stand—she then allegedly became "combative" with an arresting officer, leaving him with a "minor cut" to his hand. Whether this was inflicted by her trademark long nails or stilettos has yet to be confirmed—but Mari, who appeared in last year's movie Lottery Ticket with rappers Ice Cube and Bow Wow—now faces a charge of assault on a police officer, on top of a DUI. After a night behind bars and the posting of $50,000 bail, the artist—who has released a series of mixtapes since her eponymous teenage debut album back in 2005—masterfully blended contrition with denial in her statement on the incident: "This is a very embarrassing moment for me," it read. "But I absolutely did NOT 'attack' a Beverly Hills police officer and I’m very confused by those allegations." However, "I did have drinks and I misjudged the situation by driving myself home." Mari, who had reason to celebrate after signing with the Division 1 label and producer Rico Love just this month in a bid to re-ignite her career, was inclined to see a silver lining: "I hope that this situation can save someone from making the dumb decision to drink and drive!"
A 62-year-old man named William Sandt, from Lower Saucon Township, Pennsylvania, is clearly a connoisseur of crack. A traffic violation caused cops to stop a car in which he was a passenger just before midnight on Thursday. When they discovered crack cocaine on his person, they decided to search his home nearby—where they found no fewer than 32 crack pipes, a collection no doubt lovingly amassed, which will now be separated from its owner. Other finds included three bags used to store heroin, two luxurious-sounding "bronze marijuana smoking devices" and a spoon exhibiting a "white residue." But the awkward atmosphere during the search may have become even more strained when the cops stumbled upon Sandt's piece de resistance: A business card belonging to one of their fellow local officers that was evidently being employed to cut up the drugs—no doubt it provided an extra little kick. Sandt's prospects—which admittedly don't look great, with a summons due for possession of crack cocaine and 37 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia—are nevertheless better than they would have been. Just last month, the US Sentencing Commission voted to reduce crack penalties, to bring them into line with sentences for regular cocaine. And once his present troubles are behind him, Sandt may like to consider a move North—several Canadian cities, including Vancouver, are giving crack pipes away for free and could be just the places to rebuild a treasured collection.
- Seattle's Hempfest Draws Major Political Support [Northwest Cable News]
- College Drinking is Liberating, and a Good Excuse [USA Today]
- Smirnoff Helps Madonna Pick Her Next Backup Dancer [Perez Hilton]
- CSI Star's Hillbilly Heroin Charge Dropped [TMZ]
- Free Crack Cocaine Pipes Enable the Saving of Lives [Calgary Herald]
- America's Serious Crime Rate is Plunging, But Why? [The Guardian]
- Anne Hathaway Addicted to Online Scrabble [Just Jared]
It's been hours since anyone's heard from Charlie Sheen, but thankfully Mighty Ducks star Emilio Estevez has taken a well-deserved break from directing underrated biopics to assure the world that his brother is a changed man. Estevez—who, along with his father, Martin Sheen, works a more traditional recovery program than his modality-pioneering sibling—told Access Hollywood, “He’s a different guy. He’s a completely different guy. He’s got his voice back. And I think he’s got his focus. He’s on a new show and he’s gonna be roasted by Comedy Central—which I think is going to be hysterical. I think that he’s really got it together. And he’s very excited about the crew of the show he’s putting together.” Estevez's claims seem to be borne out by the white Tiger himself. When asked recently about the decision of his nemesis, Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, to kill off the "train wreck" actor in an actual subway train wreck, Charlie Sheen serenely turned the other cheek. "I am honored that it took something as large and violent as an oncoming train to terminate my character," he said philosophically. "Anything less would have been an insult!" But couldn't Lorre have come up with something more Charlie to kill off Sheen's character? Something bigger, grander, more...winning? Perhaps the much-maligned producer could have trotted out the late-series trope of hauling an aging cast to Vegas for hilarious hijinks, a-la-Friends. Once there, in recognition of Sheen's oft-quoted boast of having tiger blood coursing through his veins, Lorre could have opened the season with a tasteful mauling--an homage to Seigfreid and brave Roy--in a more fitting solution to mark the end of Sheen's longtime reign as the craziest cat in prime time. But on second thought, maybe a subway death is a tidier, more politically correct way for CBS to deal with its Sheen problem. After all, killing off one tiger has proved costly enough for CBS's head honchos. Having the blood of two tigers on their hands might be simply cat-astrophic for the Tiffany network.