Artie Lange Receives Sentence For 2017 Heroin Bust

By Paul Gaita 06/08/18

Lange took to Twitter after the sentence to praise the judge, his lawyer and the prosecutor for their efforts.

Artie Lange and lawyer in court
Photo via YouTube

Comedian Artie Lange was sentenced to four years of probation for drug charges stemming from a May 2017 arrest for heroin possession.

New Jersey State Superior Court Judge Nancy Sivilli handed down the sentence to the Crashing star on June 1, along with orders to complete an outpatient drug treatment program and 50 hours of community service.

In a tweet issued the following day, Lange wrote that the judge's decision was "very fair," but also added "4 yrs [sic] probation is a long time." The arrest and sentence is the latest in a string of run-ins with the law and treatment for Lange, who has struggled with drug dependency since his tenure on Mad TV in the mid-1990s.

Both Lange and his lawyer, Frank Arleo, asked for probation, citing that lack of work would be both financially and personally devastating for the comedian and his family; Lange noted that his mother relies on his financial support, and claimed that he was "happiest... and most productive when [he works]."

Lange and Arleo stated that with a second memoir due in July, combined with a tour and promotional duties, as well as his work on the Judd Apatow-produced HBO series Crashing, and stand-up engagements, he's "going to be busy," as Arleo said.

Both were also sanguine about Lange's health and dependency issues. Arleo said that he had been frank with Lange about how he needed to adhere to the terms of probation: "He knows he's at the end of the road," he told Judge Sivilli.

For his part, Lange said that he has "an issue that needs to be taken care of," and it would be best served by being allowed to continue to work.

Assistant prosecutor Tony Gutierrez painted a different picture of Lange's probation request. He cited past instances of Lange being asked to leave treatment in New Canaan, Connecticut for possessing OxyContin, and said that long-term in-patient programs would be more effective as treatment. And providing him with funding from his book and promotional tour would only give him more opportunities and funds to use drugs, he said. "He is not doing the right thing to help himself," said Gutierrez.

Ultimately, Gutierrez sided with Lange, but added a stern warning about his behavior while in probation. "Mr. Lange, the ball's in your court now," she said, after recounting his long struggle with dependency. After citing a note in his medical records from a doctor who suggested that Lange could die if he relapses, she said, "You're getting too old for this."

In tweets issued on June 2, Lange praised not only Arleo but also the prosecutor and judge for their efforts. "I truly feel he wants the best for me," he wrote about Gutierrez, whom he thanked along with Arleo and Sivilli, whom he described as "a woman on the bench who commands respect! She has mine."

In addition to adhering to his probation, Lange must submit to urine screenings and provide information on his participation in an outpatient drug treatment program within 10 days. If he violates these terms or garners new charges, he could face up to five years in jail.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.