How Many Times Has Artie Lange Been Arrested?

Some stars make as much publicity with their legal drama as they do with their acting careers. Entertainers having regular run-ins with legal authorities is nothing new and can sometimes even overshadow their successes in a tough industry. Whether it's the cast of Diff'rent Strokes or the antics of Sean Penn early in his career, it's certainly easy to pay more attention to the off-camera drama than to what these stars are currently producing on a studio set. 

Drugs and alcohol seem to be the major catalyst in the famous getting into trouble with the legal system. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a person who has made more headlines because of addiction issues than comedian Artie Lange. 

Mostly candid and open about his ongoing struggles with addiction, Lange has had many of his successful endeavors evaporate quicker than the money in his bank account because of cocaine and heroin. The high cost of the former had Lange spending down much of his one-time $14 million net worth, as he was buying kilos of cocaine every month (per an appearance on the "Legion of Skanks" podcast, via Bro Bible). The combination of drugs, gambling, and legal fees from multiple arrests and stints in rehab have been costly to not only his financial worth, but to his health, reputation, and freedom.

Just how much of a legal history does Artie Lange have? As he spilled details on NPR's "Fresh Air" in 2008, Lange was first placed into handcuffs at the young age of 17.

Lange was first arrested at 17 for a prank

Lange revealed to "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross that he was arrested at the age of 17 when a prank went too far. According to NPR, Lange was inspired by the Woody Allen film "Take the Money and Run," and decided to try a fake bank robbery note as a way to get a female bank teller's attention. Lange walked in and handed the note to her, which read, "I have a gun. Put $50,000 into a bag, turn around and count to a thousand. Act natural, no, act casual. Thank you for your cooperation, Artie Lange Jr." Convincing the judge in court after his arrest that it was a prank, his charges were reduced to disorderly conduct, and Lange was fined $500 and assigned community service.

A rising star, Lange earned his way onto the cast of the sketch comedy television show "MAD TV" in 1995. But before the second season was completed in 1996, Lange was fired after an arrest for cocaine possession (per EN News). The Smoking Gun shows a court document that outlines Lange's arrest for the offense. His 1997 conviction garnered two years' probation. 

Not deterred by being released from a popular TV show, Lange had his career revived by fellow comedian Norm MacDonald. MacDonald got Lange cast as his co-star in the 1998 comedy "Dirty Work," directed by the late Bob Saget, which led to his being hired for MacDonald's subsequent sitcom "The Norm Show," for which Lange acted for the second and third season. 

Decades worth of addiction led to multiple arrests

In 2001, Lange began a nine-year stint on Howard Stern's radio show. But Lange's addictions eventually got the better of him. TMZ reported that Lange was arrested for a DUI in June 2009 after his car was involved in a minor accident with another vehicle. He plead guilty to that offense and was sentenced to 12 hours in an intoxicated drivers resource program, a revoked license for seven months, and was made to pay a fine of $664. His cocaine and heroin use were also beginning to spiral out of control during this period, which saw Lange in and out of rehab. His drug addiction finally got him removed from Stern's show, with Stern concerned that Lange coming back to the show after a long stint in rehab would do Lange more harm than good (via EN News).

The New York Post describes how many of Lange's more recent run-ins with legal authorities are rooted in his 2017 arrest for possession of cocaine and heroin. In May of that year, Lange was pulled over by the New Jersey State Highway patrol, who found him in possession of 81 decks of heroin, according to People. Lange was also reportedly in possession of an open bag of heroin in his lap and a straw. After being arrested in December 2017 for failure to appear in court for a hearing on the matter, Lange later entered a plea of guilty in exchange for four years' probation. 

His last arrest came in 2019

Unfortunately for Lange, his addiction kept him going in front of judges. Repeated violations of probation and parole have led to multiple subsequent arrests. In January 2019, Lange was arrested and spent nearly a week in the Essex County Jail in New Jersey for violating the conditions of his release. During a routine drug test, Lange tested positive for cocaine (per New Jersey).

Later, Lange was arrested in May 2019 at a halfway house for "not complying with the terms and conditions of the drug court program," according to a spokeswoman from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office (via Page Six). This was the sixth and most recent time that Lange has been arrested. With so much talent to offer, his many fans are probably hoping that this comedic genius is finally back on the right track. And considering what his addiction has done to his career, his health, and his finances, perhaps Lange will have the motivation to stay clean and out of the courts.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).