Tim Allen avoided life sentence for drug dealing by ratting out his partners
| Last updated
Long before he was the voice of Buzz Lightyear and a household name, Tim Allen had a chequered past with the law.
The Hollywood legend was once almost sentenced to life in prison for drug dealing.
During his time at Western Michigan college in the 70s, Allen fell in with the wrong crowd, and not only began using drugs, but also started pedalling them to earn some money on the side.
And while it seemed to work out well for him for a while, he was eventually caught smuggling 650g of cocaine through an airport.
According to John F. Wukovits’ book 'Tim Allen (Overcoming Adversity', the actor was set up by undercover police officer Michael Pifer, who had been following the rookie dealer for months.
Allen apparently suggested they do the deal at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport after being inspired by a similar scene he'd seen on TV.
He placed the Adidas holdall, which was filled with drugs, in a locker and then handed the key to Pfifer.
Recalling the incident, Allen said that rather than receiving the $42,000 he was expecting, he was swarmed by police.
He later told the Detroit Free Press: "The next thing I observed was a gun in my face."
And if that wasn't enough bad luck for the actor, Michigan had only just passed a new law that stipulated anyone found with 650g or more of cocaine on them faced life in prison.
However, in order to avoid spending the rest of his days behind bars, Allen pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and provided the names of other dealers involved.
This reduced his sentence and meant that his case could be heard in a federal court rather than a state court, so the new law didn't affect the case.
The information he provided led to the conviction of 20 others, including four major drug dealers.
Allen was sentenced to three to seven years in prison, though only served two years and four months.
He was released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota in 1981.
Speaking about his conviction, the 69-year-old said he was ashamed of what he'd done in his past.
“I was an F up," the Toy Story actor said. "After my old man died, I really just played games with people and told adults what they wanted to hear and then stole their booze.
"I had so much shame at the things that I did… especially driving people around. Coming from a dad that was killed that way, it’s difficult to get past it.”
Looking back at his time in prison, Allen said it changed him.
“I just shut up and did what I was told," he said. "It was the first time ever I did what I was told and played the game.”
Featured Image Credit: Kalamazoo Sheriff’s department/Shutterstock
Topics: TV and Film, Toy Story, US News, Crime