Crime Time: Michael Douglas' son stole my dreamFri Apr 23, 2010 @ 08:49AM PST
I'm a dreamer. When I was a kid growing up in a working class Tucson neighborhood, I dreamed of being shipped off to a Swiss boarding school. I dreamed of having celebrity parents. I dreamed of being a movie star. I just knew that with all of these elements, life would be perfect and I'd be happy.
In 1978, Cameron Douglas was born into my dream.
His father is Michael Douglas. His grandfather is Kirk Douglas. At 13, he was shipped off to boarding school. And by the time he was 30, he had appeared in four films, including "It Runs in the Family" with his father and grandfather. This week, however, 31-year-old Cameron was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to drug possession and conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine in New York City.
How did this happen?
By many accounts, Cameron's troubles began when his parents' marriage fell apart and he turned to marijuana and cocaine as a teenager. A series of rehabs and relapses followed. Then came his heroine addiction. In 2006, his father cut him off from the family fortune when he refused to seek treatment, and Cameron allegedly turned to dealing meth as a way to support himself. For three years, DEA officials say, Cameron supplied over five pounds of meth to New York dealers and, according to the criminal complaint filed last year, he charged nearly $50,000 per pound.
Cameron purportedly moved to New York last summer hoping to clean up his act. He moved into the trendy Meatpacking District's Hotel Gansevoort, and his addict girlfriend moved in with him. That was a recipe for disaster. Federal agents arrested Cameron on July 28 at the Gansevoort and placed him under house arrest at his mother's Manhattan apartment. Soon after, Cameron's girlfriend attempted to smuggle him heroin inside an electric toothbrush (an offense that led to her own guilty plea on drug charges), and Cameron's house arrest quickly turned into a jail stay.
In January, Cameron entered a guilty plea. Since then, Cameron's father, grandfather, stepmother Catherine Zeta-Jones, and others pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman for leniency as Cameron faced 10 years in prison. Indeed, a handwritten letter from Michael Douglas filed with the court and made public this week revealed that Cameron has struggled with drugs since he was 13 and comes from a long line of addicts.
Michael asked the court to show mercy on his son, writing that he knows the burden of having a Hollywood legend as a father: "I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father. I'm not sure I can comprehend it with two generations to deal with." He also acknowledged the reality of his son's actions, saying: “Judge Berman, I love my son, but I’m not blind to his actions. I do believe out of this adversity he will be a positive citizen. I don’t want to see him break.”
And neither did the judge. During the hearing, Judge Berman said he had read at least 37 letters from family, friends and supporters who "believe he has finally bottomed out in terms of his addiction and may be ready to turn his life around." Judge Berman, though, said: "In my estimation, that will be a very difficult chore. I think this case and this sentencing may well be his last chance to make it."
Along with this admonition, the judge said the government had agreed Cameron qualified for a sentence less than the 10-year federal mandatory minimum. He got five years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
OK, Cameron's life isn't exactly my dream, but I'm not convinced it's a nightmare either. While he faces a severe addiction and the possibility of failure in the public eye, he's still a Douglas. He still could inherit the family fortune. He still might pursue a career in acting. He still can live the dream life he was given at birth. And I'm left thinking -- with the utmost sympathy for Cameron and other addicts everywhere -- that I could have done so much more with that gift. I hope he can appreciate that.
Got a Crime Time question or comment? Reach Russell Wetanson at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/popsquire and watch him on TV Guide Network and HLN.