[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Tuesday, Feb. 16.]
NEW YORK Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland pleaded guilty Tuesday morning (Feb. 16) to a heroin-possession charge in exchange for a sentence that will involve no jail time as long as he stays out of trouble for a year.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross used harsh words in ordering Weiland, who was arrested in June during a drug sweep of a Lower East Side housing development, to finish a drug-rehabilitation program. Ross told the singer he will be sent to jail at Rikers Island for 30 days if he breaks any criminal law in the next year.
"I don't think you understand the pain you've caused lots of people, as well as the pain you've caused yourself," the judge said.
If Weiland gets into trouble again, the judge continued, "I don't think the people on Rikers Island are going to be as nice to you as others have been."
Smiling as he left the courtroom, Weiland said the sentence "just means I can't get in trouble in the next year, which I don't plan to anyway."
He said he believed the judge used especially strong words "to make a public example of me. I think if it had been a construction worker up there, it would have been different he wanted to make a point."
Weiland had faced up to two years in jail for charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal trespass. As part of a plea agreement, the trespassing charge was dropped. He had to pay $85 in court costs.
He told the court he was in "phase four" of a rehabilitation program at a facility called Impact House. That phase, he said, involves going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a week and meeting with a counselor weekly.
"I wish you the best of luck," the judge said. "I don't think there's much anyone can do for you anymore except you."
Weiland's lawyer, Robert Kalina, said, "We always wish the disposition of the case came out better, but this will allow Scott to move on and start making his music."
Weiland, who has recently reunited with Stone Temple Pilots, said outside the courtroom that the band is in pre-production for an album in a North Hollywood, Calif., studio, and has written 20 songs.
"We're hoping for a release in the early part of the summer, so we can follow up with an interesting tour, possibly with Limp Bizkit and the Foo Fighters," he said.
Weiland was accompanied in court by his girlfriend, model Mary Forsberg. He was dressed conservatively in gray pants and a black sweater, and was sporting a short brown mohawk.