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Video: Paris Hilton arrested on drug charges

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    ANN CURRY, co-host: But first, Matt , for the second time in a week Paris Hilton is making headlines. This past weekend, the high-flying heiress was arrested on the Las Vegas Strip for drug possession. Well, NBC 's Miguel Almaguer has more. Miguel , good morning to you.

    MIGUEL ALMAGUER reporting: Ann , good morning. Just a few hours ago Paris Hilton tweeted her followers, thanking them for their support. She certainly seems to be taking this latest arrest in stride. In front of the cameras, Paris Hilton seems right at home. Everywhere the notorious party girl and hotel heiress goes shutters snap, flashbulbs pop. But now a different kind of head shot has Paris back in the headlines yet again. It happened just before midnight on Friday, when Hilton 's boyfriend Cy Waits was cited for driving under the influence on the Vegas Strip .

    Sergeant JOHN SHEAHAN (Las Vegas Metro Police): The vehicle was stopped due to a strong odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle.

    ALMAGUER: Sitting in the passenger seat, Paris would have been in the clear except police say she reached into her purse and spilled the stash.

    Sgt. SHEAHAN: She extracted a tube of lip balm from her purse. At that time, a plastic bindle containing a substance believed to be cocaine fell from her purse in plain view of the Metro lieutenant.

    ALMAGUER: Hilton was booked for possession of cocaine. According to celebrity Web site TMZ , Hilton may claim the purse she was holding wasn't hers. That's the same defense she reportedly used in South Africa last month when police detained and questioned her about smoking marijuana at the World Cup . She was never charged.

    Ms. KIM SERAFIN (InTouch Weekly): I think there's a certain kind of attention that you want. All publicity is good publicity, I guess. But you don't want to necessarily be arrested too many times.

    ALMAGUER: For Paris , this arrest is number three. First she was busted for drunk driving in 2006 , and then stopped the next year for driving without a license, which famously landed her in jail for 23 days.

    Ms. PARIS HILTON: It was a very traumatic experience, but I feel like God does make everything happen for a reason.

    ALMAGUER: Hilton even claimed she was turning her life around. But even by her standards, last week proved unusually dramatic. Tuesday she tweeted this photo of a man being arrested outside her Hollywood home, later telling the story to NBC 's Las Vegas affiliate.

    Ms. HILTON: We were sleeping and just heard this loud banging coming from downstairs. And we went to check, and there was this man staring at me through the window. He didn't even run, he was just smiling.

    ALMAGUER: The knife-wielding suspect was charged with burglary. But just a few hours after this interview, Hilton found herself in police custody . Probably not the kind of trip to Vegas she pictured. Hilton 's lawyer says there shouldn't be a rush to judgment, and legal experts say if she's convicted she'll likely get probation. Ann :

    CURRY: Miguel Almaguer , thank you so much . Dan Abrams is NBC 's chief legal analyst, and Bonnie Fuller is the editor-in-chief of hollywoodlife.com. Good morning to both of you.

    Ms. BONNIE FULLER (Editor-in-Chief, Hollywoodlife.com): Good morning, Ann.

    Mr. DAN ABRAMS (NBC News Chief Legal Analyst): Good morning, Ann.

    CURRY: Miguel just said that -- earlier that Paris Hilton is taking this in stride. Could she actually face, if found guilty, serious jail time?

    Mr. ABRAMS: It depends how much cocaine she was found with, right. If she's found with let's say less than two grams, I think Miguel is right. But it's possible, though, that she could get more than probation, meaning if you didn't have a prior record, less than two grams in the state of Nevada , probably true. She does have a prior record. It's possible that a judge could sentence her to some time, although I think it's probably not likely that they...

    CURRY: Because?

    Mr. ABRAMS: Because the law says that in this kind of case, for that amount. But if it's more than two grams, let's say it's over -- if it was over four grams or something, then you're talking about very serious jail time.

    CURRY: Bonnie , when you hear that police only found -- allegedly found this cocaine after Paris reached in to get her lip balm , you almost kind of wonder, well, did she do it on purpose?

    Ms. FULLER: You have to wonder, what was she thinking? I mean, she -- well, now she's claiming that it wasn't her purse and that therefore that's why she didn't know it was there and that's why she just nonchalantly pulled it out, let it spill out. However, you also have to wonder, since there's been incidents with her associated with -- associated with arrests throughout the summer, first in South Africa , then in Corsica , you know, what is she doing? Is she looking for attention? She hasn't been in the headlines for anything very positive lately about her career. But this is not the way to reignite her career if she's thinking, 'I'm get -- I'm back in the news.'

    CURRY: Meantime, the question has been raised by a lot of people who've been watching all of this coverage about celebrities who get in trouble with the law.

    Mr. ABRAMS: Yeah.

    CURRY: Why do they get a different shake? Do you think they do?

    Mr. ABRAMS: I do. I think they actually end up getting tougher. I know no one wants to hear that. Everyone wants to believe that celebrities get off more easily. Paris Hilton , for example, in her first sentence, the sheriff in that case said that had it been someone other than Paris Hilton they probably would have served no time or very little time , meaning less than the 23 days that she served. And I think that in this case, this is why I hesitate on saying probation. Because while I think someone else might get probation, the world is going to be watching. No judge wants to be seen as the one who let Paris Hilton off easy. And as a result, I think that the judicial system is going to be very careful to stick to the letter of the law and the letter of the sentencing guidelines when it comes to Paris Hilton .

    CURRY: All right. Well...

    Ms. FULLER: Now, she doesn't seem to be too worried about it, though, because she went home and tweeted that she was getting into bed and watching " Family Guy " and she had a great day.

Image: Paris Hilton
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police  /  AP
Paris Hilton is seen in her police booking photo in Las Vegas. Paris Hilton was arrested late Friday.
updated 8/28/2010 3:42:14 PM ET 2010-08-28T19:42:14

Paris Hilton was arrested late Friday after a police motorcycle officer smelled marijuana smoke wafting from a black Cadillac Escalade driven by her boyfriend on the Las Vegas Strip, then found cocaine in her purse, authorities said.

A crowd quickly gathered when Hilton and Las Vegas nightclub mogul Cy Waits were stopped about 11:30 p.m. Friday in the vehicle near the Wynn Las Vegas resort on Las Vegas Boulevard, police said. The 29-year-old celebrity socialite asked to go into the hotel for privacy because of the number people gathering, said Officer Marcus Martin.

Police later found a substance in Hilton's purse that tests showed to be cocaine, Martin said. He said it was "a small amount" of the drug, a package of the size usually associated with personal use.

Hilton was arrested on suspicion of felony cocaine possession.

Waits, 34, was arrested on misdemeanor suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Both were booked into the Clark County jail, where Martin said Hilton was released without bail about 2:45 a.m. Saturday. Sgt. John Sheahan said Hilton received no special treatment during her brief time at the jail, and that release without bail was common in such cases.

Less than an hour later, Hilton's Twitter account was updated with a posting that said the actress was in bed watching the television show "Family Guy," and then that she was going to sleep. It was unclear if the tweets came from her, were posted by time-release or were sent by someone else.

If convicted of the low-grade felony, Hilton would get probation. Any violation of probation would be punishable by one to four years in Nevada state prison.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined comment Saturday about the case.

Hilton's attorney, David Chesnoff, told The Associated Press on Saturday morning that he was still gathering facts about the arrest.

"I caution people not to rush to judgment," he said.

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Waits' lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, said Waits posted $2,000 bail and was expected to be released Saturday.

Court appearance dates for Hilton and Waits were not immediately available.

Schonfeld said he was "troubled by the circumstances" leading to the arrest, but declined to specify his concerns.

"As the case proceeds, a lot of facts are going to come to light that will ultimately lead to exoneration," Schonfeld said.

Hilton's manager did not immediately respond early Saturday to telephone calls for comment. Hilton's publicist, Dawn Miller, did not immediately return an e-mail message.

A spokeswoman for Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Waits and his twin brother, Jesse, are managing partners of the Tryst Nightclub inside Wynn Las Vegas, Drai's after hours club at Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, and XS The Nightclub at Wynn's Encore resort. A spokeswoman for Harrah's resorts declined immediate comment.

Earlier this week, Hilton was in the news when a 31-year-old man allegedly tried to break into her Los Angeles home.

Authorities have said that someone carrying two big knives banged on Hilton's window Tuesday. She posted a photo of the arrest on Twitter and described it as "scary." Nathan Lee Parada faces a felony burglary charge.

Hilton was arrested this summer after the Brazil-Netherlands World Cup match in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on suspicion of possession of marijuana. The case was then dropped at a midnight court hearing.

Hilton pleaded no contest in 2007 to alcohol-related reckless driving and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. After spending about 23 days in jail, Hilton told CNN host Larry King that the experience caused her to re-evaluate the role partying played in her life. She said she wanted "to help raise money for kids and for breast cancer and multiple sclerosis."

While most famous for her tabloid exploits and reality TV series "The Simple Life," Hilton has appeared in the films "Bottoms Up," "The Hottie & the Nottie" and "House of Wax."

The Associated Press.


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