Special Feature

Celebs who ruined innocent lives

For most folks, a celebrity encounter is an exciting experience. It’s a chance to nab an autograph, snap a selfie, or make small talk that you’ll be able to brag about at parties for years to come. But for others, a chance run-in with a star resulted in pain, loss, and in some cases, lifelong regret. While the celebs in these situations may have benefited from the shield of fame and fortune, the normal folks suffered in their shadows. Here are are some regular joes who probably wish they’d never encountered one of Hollywood’s elite.


Justin Bieber

What’s it like to live next door to Justin Bieber? If you answered “horrible, terrifying and life-ruining,” you’d be 100 percent correct. At least that’s what two former neighbors claimed in a 2015 lawsuit. Jeffrey and Suzanne Schwartz alleged the “Sorry” singer and his bodyguards “repeatedly harassed them and their family, vandalized their house with eggs and threatened them with anti-Semitic remarks,” according to CNN. Equally awful were allegations that Bieber spat in Jeffrey’s face after Jeffrey told the pop prince he was driving his Ferrari too fast through the streets of their gated community in Calabasas, Calif.

As one might surmise from the suit, the Schwartzes have a pretty rough history with Bieber. In 2014, Bieber pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor vandalism charge stemming from an incident in which he allegedly threw a dozen eggs at the Schwartz’s mansion, according to CNN. He was ordered to pay $80,900 restitution, stay 100 yards away from the family, and was sentenced to two years’ probation. The lawsuit alleged that the Schwartz family was subjected to “constant harassment” by Bieber’s “entourage, fans and the media” after the story broke.

Bieber sold his mansion to another media-friendly celebrity, Khloe Kardashian, in 2014. Based on what we’ve seen on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, that could be the worst thing to happen to the Schwartz family yet.


Mike Tyson

He since has rehabilitated his career and image, but in the early 1990s, Mike Tyson was convicted of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old pageant contestant in Indianapolis. The New York Daily News wrote that “Tyson overpowered and raped her in his hotel room on July 19 during the Indiana Black Expo.” Tyson’s defense was that he was publicly known to be a crude womanizer, and the accuser “must have known” that he was interested in having sex with her, according to the report. Ten witnesses for the defense, however, testified that Tyson groped contestants and made bawdy comments during a dance rehearsal.

Tyson served three years in prison and settled a lawsuit by survivor Desiree Washington in 1995. Despite Tyson’s documented history of brutality against women, two of the jurors in his criminal trial came forward in ’92 and said they believe Washington lied and was motivated by money. This Los Angeles Times profile of Washington in ’95 paints the story of a woman who was broken emotionally, also noting that her parents separated and sold her childhood home after pressures mounted during the Tyson trial.


Ashley Greene

When the West Hollywood condo of Twilight actress Ashley Greene caught on fire in 2013, most tabloid headlines focused on the death of her dog, Marlo. While that is certainly tragic, the less reported angle of the story was the effect the fire had on Greene’s neighbors. The building’s doorman, Adrian Mayorga, along with several other tenants, reportedly sued Greene for property damage and health problems associated with the fire, which was caused by an unattended candle in her home, according to TMZ.

It seems the neighborhood’s beef with the actress began before the blaze. According to TMZ, residents claimed Greene was a disruptive nuisance who threw loud parties. On top of all of that, some tenants griped that Greene failed to reach out to them to apologize or take responsibility for the fire, though her landlord said she was welcome back.

In 2016, TMZ reported that Greene reached a settlement with Mayorga for an undisclosed amount.

Roman Polanski

In 1977, Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski allegedly gave champagne and a Quaalude to then-13-year-old Samantha Gailey at actor Jack Nicholson’s house. He then allegedly engaged in various deviant acts, only one of which he ever pleaded guilty to—unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Before sentencing, Polanski fled to Paris, then Switzerland, and finally Poland, avoiding extradition to the United States. Gailey, now known as Samantha Geimer, battled the spotlight in America for decades.

Though many have called for Polanski’s to return to the States and serve time behind bars, Geimer said she moved beyond the incident long ago and believed her attacker had been punished adequately. “I don’t really have any hard feelings toward him, or any sympathy, either,” she wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “He is a stranger to me.”

Geimer said the worst actors in the whole situation were the court officials, public figures, and press who used her case for their own gains. In 2013, Geimer decided it was time to take back her story and authored a book titled, The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski. “[His] arrest was, in a sense, my arrest. Because I am that thirteen-year-old girl,” she writes in an excerpt. “Ask yourself this: Would you like the craziest thing that ever happened to you as a teenager broadcast and then dissected over and over on television, in the blogosphere? Right. I didn’t think so.”

Lance Armstrong

Mike Anderson worked for years as Lance Armstrong’s personal assistant, bike mechanic, and general gopher under the alleged agreement that after Armstrong was finished competing, he and Armstrong would partner to open a bike shop. But Anderson’s dream became a waking nightmare after Armstrong fired him for allegedly questioning a no-questions-asked policy regarding the champion cyclist’s controversial performance tactics.

Telling his story in a piece for Outside Magazine, Anderson claimed Armstrong backed out of the bike shop agreement after he refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement. That agreement supposedly would have made Anderson financially responsible for a large sum if he “mentioned ever having worked for Armstrong.” Anderson claims the cycling icon went on the offensive, allegedly launching a media and legal blitz against Anderson in a supposed attempt to ruin his reputation. Things got so vicious, Anderson said he had to flee to New Zealand to start his life over. Yep, you read that right, this guy supposedly had to move his family to the other side of the world to try to shake off the stink from his association with Armstrong.


Britney Spears

Britney Spears has done a lot of wacky things in her career, but fans were flabbergasted when she flew her high school friend, Jason Alexander, in a private jet to Las Vegas and asked him to marry her.

“She was like, ‘Well, let’s get married.’ And I was like, ‘Sure. You know, let’s do this,'” he told ABC News. The nuptials were annulled just 55 hours after the couple said “I do.” According to ABC News, the annulment said Spears “lacked understanding of her actions, to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to the marriage.” To which Alexander replied: “bulls***.”

Bull or not, Alexander—who claimed he was in love with Spears at the time—clearly got a raw deal. Not only did he make national headlines for the couple’s bizarre wedding, he had to fly back home to Louisiana in coach.


O.J. Simpson

Though O.J. Simpson was acquitted in criminal court of the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, O.J. did lose a civil suit brought by the Goldman family, which resulted in Simpson owing $33.5 million dollars. Speaking to CNBC 20 years after the criminal trial, Goldman’s sister, Kim, said the civil suit was a victory in that a jury found O.J. liable for the murders, but she said the family endured a decades-long battle to get Simpson to fork over any of the money. With interest, that award totaled more than $40 million by 2014. “We’ve collected less than one percent of that,” Kim said.

The Goldmans did receive a relatively small portion of their award after a bankruptcy judge gave them the rights to a ghost-authored book about the murders, which was titled, If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. Though O.J. claims he was not involved in the writing of the book, he was paid for it and even conducted a promotional interview in which he recounted a hypothetical narrative of the murder, reported The New York Times in 2007.

So, just to recap, the family that lost their son in a gruesome murder and only received a small semblance of justice through a financial settlement is being paid through the profits from a book promoted by the man who claims he didn’t do the crimes but fantasizes about what it would have been like if he did. That’s unconscionable. Case closed.

Ray Lewis

Retired NFL star Ray Lewis remains the only person convicted in relation to the deaths in January 2000 of two men killed during a fight outside of an Atlanta nightclub. Originally charged with two counts of murder, Lewis copped a plea bargain for obstruction of justice for his role in the knifing deaths of Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker. In exchange for testifying against two of his friends also involved in the fight, Lewis received one year of probation, The Baltimore Sun reported. The NFL fined Lewis $250,000, but he was not suspended from any Baltimore Ravens games. His friends Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley, saying they acted in self-defense, were found not guilty.

Lewis maintains he was only trying to break up a fight, though he admitted to lying to police and making false statements about the incident after he fled the scene. Witness testimony at the trial said Lewis told other passengers in a getaway limo to “keep their mouths shut,” according to USA Today.

In 2004, Lewis settled a civil suit for at least $1 million. He claimed the settlement was not an admission of guilt, but an expression of love and sympathy. For the most part, Lewis rehabilitated his reputation and put together a Hall of Fame-caliber career until retiring in 2013. Cindy Lollar-Owens, Richard Lollar’s aunt, told USA Today in 2013 that news of Lewis’ retirement prompted her “to visit the funeral home, ‘because that’s where my nephew retired.'”


Mark Wahlberg

Before he rose to fame, Mark Wahlberg was a notable delinquent on the streets of Boston. In 1986, the future Funky Bunch rapper was slapped with a civil rights injunction after two separate incidents of hurling rocks and racial epithets at an African-American schoolboy. The injunction warned Wahlberg that if he racially harassed someone again, he’d go to jail, according to the assistant attorney general who prosecuted Wahlberg for doing exactly that.

On April 8, 1998, Thanh Lam was getting out of his car when Wahlberg approached him while carrying a large wooden stick. According to the police report, Wahlberg called Lam a “Vietnam f***ing s**t” before knocking him unconscious with the stick. When Wahlberg was arrested later that night and brought back to the scene, he boasted to police, “You don’t have to let [Lam] identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the motherf***er whose head I split open.” It doesn’t end there. Somehow, Wahlberg fled the scene and attacked another Vietnamese man, Hoa Trinh, by punching him in the eye. After the police caught him again, Wahlberg reportedly made several racial slurs about his victims.

In 2014, Wahlberg requested a pardon for his criminal behavior, but later, dropped the request after it spurred unwanted media attention about his past. In 2016, he expressed regret for applying for the pardon, but it did give him an opportunity to meet and apologize to one of his victims, according to The Wrap.


Aaron Hernandez

Landscaper Odin Lloyd was killed because he knew too much about the alleged dark side of New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, prosecutors said. A jury sentenced the NFL pro to life behind bars without parole in 2015 for allegedly orchestrating and covering up Lloyd’s murder. Hernandez said he “didn’t take pleasure” in Odin’s death, yet he was reportedly smiling at the victim’s mother during the trial.

In June 2013, police brought in Hernandez for questioning after finding Lloyd’s body less than a mile from Hernandez’s home in Massachusetts. Lloyd was his fiancee’s sister’s boyfriend and reportedly had knowledge of other crimes prosecutors claim Hernandez committed, including the double homicide in 2012 of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Hernandez was found not guilty of double homicide in April 2017, but committed suicide by hanging himself while incarcerated shortly thereafter.





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