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Paris Hilton pleads guilty in Vegas drug arrest

LAS VEGAS — Paris Hilton can still sashay down red carpets and hit the club scene but she better not step outside the law for the next year after pleading guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges stemming from her cocaine arrest last month at a Las Vegas resort.

Hilton, who faced a felony drug charge, avoided jail time by acknowledging during the Las Vegas Justice Court hearing that she had cocaine in her purse and lied to police when she was arrested.

She will serve a year of probation under the terms of a plea deal and faces a year in jail if she is arrested for anything other than a minor traffic violation during that time.

“The purpose of this at this point is that you change your conduct,” Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure told the hotel heiress. “The Clark County Detention Center is not the Waldorf-Astoria.”

Hilton, 29, pleaded guilty to drug possession and obstructing an officer. She must complete a drug abuse program, pay a $2,000 fine and serve 200 hours of community service.

Hilton — wearing a champagne-colored blouse, a black pencil skirt and black platform heels — told Bonaventure the cocaine was hers.

When he asked what she did to obstruct justice, Hilton, swaying side to side, responded, “I said that the purse wasn’t mine to the officer,” and acknowledged that she had bought it months earlier.

“Our main concern is that Ms. Hilton stay out of trouble over the next year,” Clark County prosecutor David Schubert said.

Hilton’s attorney, David Chesnoff, said the celebrity socialite would attend an outpatient substance abuse treatment program.

“I know Ms. Hilton is contrite and accepts the responsibility for her actions,” Chesnoff said.

Under the original felony charge, Hilton would also not have served jail time as a first-time offender, but she faced up to three years of probation.

Hilton was arrested Aug. 26 inside the Wynn resort, after police say a small bag containing 0.8 of a gram of cocaine spilled from her Chanel purse as she reached for lip balm.

Hilton told police the purse and cocaine were not hers.

She was stopped with her boyfriend, Las Vegas nightclub mogul Cy Waits, 34, after an officer smelled marijuana smoke coming from the Cadillac Escalade they were riding in.

Waits was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A toxicology report is pending.

Hilton is no neophyte to courtroom procedure.

She briefly faced a marijuana charge in July after a FIFA World Cup game in South Africa, but the case was dropped when a woman who was with her pleaded guilty to carrying the illegal drug.

Hilton served 23 days in jail in 2007 for a probation violation after pleading no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving.

However, because the South Africa case was dropped and the amount of cocaine was so small, the district attorney’s office did not pursue the felony charge, Schubert said.

“That’s standard,” he said.

Hilton arrived at the courthouse with Chesnoff and a bodyguard in a black Escalade. A court marshall joined them in escorting her up a ramp, while local police cleared room between her and dozens of cameramen and gawkers who watched her go inside and through a metal detector.

Hilton did not speak with reporters when she went in or out, mouthing “Thank you” only after a fan yelled “You’re beautiful, Paris.”

Comedian Jake Byrd, a recurring personality on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” wore a shirt with an image of Hilton that read “Stop the Prosecution.”

“I love Paris Hilton because she’s classy, sassy and brassy,” Byrd said.

Claude Hudson, 74, was removed from the courtroom after he tried to give Hilton a bag of sugar-free chocolates. He said he recently had been released from jail and had written her several letters from behind bars.

During a brief news conference following Hilton’s exit, Chensoff said his client did not receive special treatment.

“She was treated like anybody else would be treated under the circumstances,” he said.


Associated Press writer Oskar Garcia contributed to this report.

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