SANTA BARBARA — A celebrity saga ended Wednesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court as Randy and Evi Quaid struck a plea deal so stellar as to dazzle even the most diehard movie fans.
Randy Quaid, elder brother of prominent film star Dennis Quaid, has had a long career of assorted movie roles, playing opposite Jack Nicholson in “The Last Detail” and winning numerous awards for his own star turn in “LBJ: The Early Years.” Given the length and breadth of his thespian career, the sheer notoriety of Quaid as a felony defendant appears to have worked heavily in his favor as he has recently been starring in his own real-life comedy-drama…
FADE IN: Santa Barbara County’s stylishly rustic and elegantly-appointed San Ysidro Ranch filed a complaint for felony fraud back in September 2009, when Randy and Evi Quaid allegedly left hotel management holding the bag for more than $10,000 in room and meal charges.
CUT TO Marfa, Texas, where the Quaids were arrested by local police pursuant to a felony fraud and conspiracy warrant issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. The charges included conspiracy, burglary and defrauding an innkeeper; extradition proceedings commenced.
DISSOLVE TO October 2009, INT. SANTA BARBARA SUPERIOR COURT: Assistant District Attorney Lee Carter shrugged with disappointment and frustration before the bench as the Quaids failed to make a series of scheduled court appearances and defaulted on their $10,000 bail, resulting in yet another bench warrant for their arrest.
CUT TO December 2009, INT. JUDGE ANDERSON’S COURTROOM, where, for the fifth time, Randy and Evi Quaid failed to attend a scheduled court appearance and sacrificed another $20,000 in posted bail and had yet another warrant for their arrest issued.
DISSOLVE TO 3 DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, when the Quaids, sporting Raybans, finally show up for their arraignment in Division 8 of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, appearing before Judge Harry S. Loberg with their attorney Robert Sanger at their side. Neither felony defendant deigned to address the media, but Randy was sporting a seriously Hemingway-esque full beard and a toy deputy sheriff badge affixed to his pinstripe 3-button suit while Evi appeared in court with a plastic credit card affixed to her forehead.
DISSOLVE TO March 2010: Randy and Evi appear in court for a brief but strange appearance during which the high-spirited Mrs. Quaid posed for media dressed in what can only be described as Sgt. Pepper’s best band uniform, holding her husband’s 1988 Golden Globe award before her. The presiding judge was not amused, however, and set a trial date for the couple for April 12.
CUT TO April 12, 2010, INT. SUPERIOR COURT: An irritated Judge Ochoa, noting the absence of the Quaids and hearing no credible explanation from their counsel, reissued the prior arrest warrant for the actor and his wife.
DISSOLVE TO INT. SANTA BARBARA COUNTY JAIL, as Randy and Evi Quaid are booked into custody and photographed by the staff mugshot artist. The booking process lasted the better part of the afternoon, whereupon each defendant posted $100,000 bail. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Drew Sugars verified the fact that the Quaids “face three serious felonies and will face the judge sooner or later.”
CUT TO April 28, 2010, INT. SUPERIOR COURT, where Randy Quaid’s Hollywood star power continued to be a factor in the face of the law. Despite the three felonies facing them, in a closed-chambers session before Judge Ochaoa, Assistant D.A. Arnie Tolks accepted a plea bargain that took into consideration the fact that Mr. Quaid’s signature never appeared on any documents or room charges at the San Ysidro Ranch, and that the entire transaction had apparently been handled by Mrs. Quaid.
Evi Quaid pled no contest to misdemeanor charges of defrauding an innkeeper while her husband’s charges were dropped. The terms of her plea include three years’ probation and 240 hours of community service, pursuant to Evi’s assertion that she has always had an interest in working with the homeless. She won’t be able to shelter anyone at the San Ysidro Ranch, however, as additional terms of her probation include a stay-away order for those premises.
Upon leaving Ochao’s courtroom, the ever-eloquent Mr. Quaid addressed the media with his usual aplomb, stating, “We aren’t stupid people, y’know.”