Men in Black actor asks court to show mercy

Actor Rip Torn is in court on charges that he broke into a bank while drunk - thinking it was his own nearby home. He was carrying a loaded gun.

The incident took place in January.

This week, the Emmy-winning actor, aged 79, applied for ‘accelerated rehabilitation’, a programme for first-time non-violent offenders that allows charges to be dropped after a probation period.

Prosecutors will argue against the application at a hearing scheduled for August 11, Litchfield State’s Attorney David Shepack said.

Despite opposing the special probation request, the prosecution has dropped a charge of burglary.

Shepack said dropping the burglary charge was appropriate because nothing indicated Torn intended to burglarize the Salisbury bank when he broke in.


Torn has pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass, carrying a weapon while intoxicated, carrying a weapon without a permit and criminal mischief.

He completed an alcohol rehabilitation programme over the winter and remains in outpatient treatment including Alcoholics Anonymous,  and has gotten rid of all his weapons, his attorney said.

“He’s done very well and all reports have been successful in treatment and abstinence,” attorney A. Thomas Waterfall said, calling the treatment “an ongoing endeavour”.  

Waterfall said Torn is “very excited about some upcoming projects,” though he would not say whether Torn has been approached  to reprise his role as Chief Zed in the “Men in Black” series. A third installment is in the works.

Torn was arrested Jan. 29 after he broke into a Litchfield Bancorp branch near his home in Salisbury, according to court records.

Police say he thought he was home, taking off his hat and boots and leaving them by the door. Officers found him wandering and incoherent, and they discovered a loaded .22-caliber revolver in Torn’s pocket.

A breath test showed his blood-alcohol content was 0,203 — about  2½ times the legal limit for drivers in Connecticut, the court records say.

Torn didn’t brandish the weapon when the officers confronted him, according to his attorney and court records.

He has no history  of violence.

His permit to carry a firearm in Connecticut had expired in October 2007.

Torn was given probation last year in a Connecticut drunken driving case and allowed to enter an alcohol-education programme.

A Connecticut judge dismissed the drunken driving charge against him earlier this year based on his successful completion of that programme.

He also has two previous drunken driving arrests in New York.

The actor, whose real name is Elmore Rual Torn, has appeared on the television show “30 Rock” and won an Emmy in 1996 for his work on “The Larry Sanders Show”. Along with “Men in Black,” his recent movie credits include “The Insider” and “Dodgeball: A True Underdog  Story”.