Pawn Stars regular Chumlee may be best recognized for his starring role on the hit History Channel series, but the fan-favorite star has had some run-ins with the law. Although he has assisted with day-to-day business at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Chumlee, real name Austin Lee Russell, landed himself behind bars in 2016 and ultimately pleaded guilty to several serious charges.
Russell's legal troubles began in March 2016 when he was just 19. Police serving a search warrant in a sexual assault investigation found methamphetamine, marijuana and a gun at his southwest Las Vegas home, police said at the time, according to CBS News. Russell was arrested and booked on 19 drug possession charges and one weapon charge. Russell was not booked on a sex-crime allegation, with Officer Larry Hadfield, a department spokesman, explaining at the time that "part of the investigation stemmed from a recent complaint by a woman, and it is continuing."
Russell was released from jail after posting $62,000 bail and later accepted a plea deal during a May 23, 2016 court appearance. Under the plea deal, Russell pleaded guilty to a felony weapon charge and a misdemeanor attempted drug possession count. While the guilty plea kept Russell out of jail, under the terms of the deal, Russell instead agreed to counseling and three years' probation. The agreement also called for Russell to surrender the drugs and 12 guns police reported seizing at Russell's home, including registered handguns, a shotgun and assault-style MP5 and .223-caliber rifles that were not registered. As part of the deal, the felony charge would be dismissed and Russell would be left with only a misdemeanor conviction on his record if he remained out of trouble until 2019, which Russell has managed to do. WJLA reported on June 1, 2016 that the plea deal in the case was sealed.
Despite his legal troubles, Russell's spot on Pawn Stars was not affected. An official with A&E Network and the History Channel confirmed at the time that the hit series was not in production and there had been no change in Russell's status on the show. Debuting in 2009, Pawn Stars quickly became History's most popular series, with Chumlee becoming an instant favorite. Per Deadline, at its height, Pawn Stars drew 7 million viewers, and during its 10th season in 2015, it averaged 1.8 million viewers in Live+Same Day. The series' success led History Channel to order multiple spinoffs and specials. The series also features Richard "Rick" Harrison and his father, Richard "Old Man" Harrison, who died in June 2018.0comments