The Cinderella Man actor avoids jail time for his phone-throwing incident

By Diane Herbst
Updated November 18, 2005 08:00 AM

Russell Crowe will avoid jail time after he struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault on Friday in a New York courtroom, following his telephone-throwing incident at a New York hotel last June.

The Cinderella Man actor, wearing a black suit and joined in court by wife Danielle Spencer, agreed to plead guilty to third-degree assault and admitted to throwing a phone at a hotel concierge. In exchange, Judge Kathryn Freed sentenced him to a conditional discharge, requiring him to not get arrested for one year. Crowe also paid $160 in court fees.

Crowe initially faced charges of felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, which could have landed the Oscar winner in prison for seven years and stripped him of his U.S. work visa.

“It went as well as could be expected,” Crowe’s attorney Gerald Lefcourt, told reporters outside of court.

Under the plea deal, Lefcourt says Crowe will be able to continue working in the United States.

After his guilty plea, Crowe, 41, walked over to his wife, who was seated at the back of the courtroom. She put her arm around his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek, appearing to comfort him. He then snuck out the back door of the courtroom.

After incident, in which Crowe was frustrated at not being able to phone his wife in Australia through the hotel’s telephone system, the actor publicly apologized on the Late Show with David Letterman to hotel clerk Nestor (Josh) Estrada, 28, and reportedly paid him a settlement in the low six figures.

On the show, a contrite Crowe admitted to what he did and called his reaction “spectacularly stupid … the most shameful situation I’ve ever gotten into in my life.”

In September, New York’s Daily News reported, prosecutors offered Crowe a plea deal in which he would serve no jail time if he admitted guilt to a misdemeanor. However, the star’s lawyers refused the offer for fear of jeopardizing Crowe’s U.S. work permits.