LOS ANGELES -- As Scott Weiland finally stood face-to-face with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, the Stone Temple Pilots singer and solo artist pleaded guilty to a year-old drug charge of heroin possession Wednesday morning (Aug. 12).
The 30-year-old singer, who faced three years in prison for the charges and who had skipped a previous hearing before being arrested as a fugitive, was sentenced to 90 days in a drug rehabilitation center and placed on three years' probation.
Wearing the same mustard-brown suit he'd worn at a previous hearing, Weiland stood in an erect posture as he nervously pressed the tips of his fingers against the table in front of him and listened as Fidler lectured him on his punishment.
"This is the same as a jail sentence," the judge told the singer. "It's absolutely clear to the court that Mr. Weiland is an addict. If you fall off, it's going to mean jail time. ... The choice is yours."
Weiland spent 35 minutes standing in front of the judge, appearing healthier and more alert than he had in weeks. Clean-cut and rosy-cheeked, he barely resembled the pale, gaunt, scruffy-looking figure that, only a month ago, was nervously smoking cigarettes outside the courthouse when he was supposed to be standing in front of the judge.
In addition to his Los Angeles-based attorney, Michael Nasatir, Weiland was accompanied by Bob Kalina, the New York lawyer representing him in a separate drug-possession case. Also on hand for the hearing was a representative of the drug-rehab center where the singer is currently undergoing treatment. Weiland, who has spent the last five years in and out of rehab facilities, was ordered to return to the center immediately following the hearing to begin his 90 days of supervised, residential treatment.
The singer, who cut his solo tour short due to his drug problems, was also ordered to pay a total of $692 in miscellaneous court and probation charges. As part of the guilty plea, Fidler dismissed an additional felony count of possession of a hypodermic needle.
"I'm very happy with the judge's decision," Weiland said after the hearing. With encouragement by Nasatir, the singer added, "And I'm going to take full advantage of this."
Fidler handed down the judgment after several minutes of discussion between him, Nasatir and District Attorney Andre Holmes (who recently replaced D.A. Penny Schneider).
In sentencing Weiland, Fidler emphasized the importance of him following through with his rehabilitation program. He warned Weiland that he is not permitted to leave the center's premises for any reason in the next three months or it will be treated as a probation violation and he will face jail time.
He also ordered the singer -- who has not worked with his bandmates in STP for more than a year -- to stay away from areas where drugs are sold as well as drug users, with the exception of those attending the rehab program.
At one point while Fidler was speaking, Nasatir put his arm around Weiland and squeezed his shoulder, as if to reassure him.
After explaining to Weiland the meaning of a guilty plea and the terms of his probation, Holmes asked the singer for his plea. Weiland did not immediately respond, instead looking toward Nasatir. When Nasatir nodded, the singer said, "Guilty."
Fidler ended the hearing by telling Weiland, "Please get your life together."
After Weiland had left the courthouse, Nasatir said he was hopeful that Weiland will emerge from this trip to rehab "stronger than ever." "Scott Weiland has a problem and he's addressing that problem in the appropriate way with the help of this court," the lawyer said, calling his client "a wonderful, talented singer, a fantastic performer and a beautiful person."
"He's dedicated to recovery and rehabilitation at this moment, and I'm sure happy about that," Nasatir added. "I hope and expect that his troubles will soon be behind him. That's my wish and I know it's the wish of all his fans."
On the basis that he was undergoing rehab, Weiland was recently excused from a New York hearing regarding separate charges of heroin possession and trespassing, stemming from a June 1 arrest. That case will continue in November.