Reality Stars Who Have Been Arrested

Reality television thrives on conflict, especially the kind generated by dramatic clashes between oversized personalities who are, very often, fuelled by ego, volatility, and a whole lot of liquor. Despite the chaotic environments, a reality TV hit can transform an anonymous civilian into a celebrity overnight, a trajectory that often brings about an inflated sense of importance.

Given the type of people who thrive in that type of fraught environment, it shouldn't be surprising that law enforcement occasionally becomes involved with reality stars. As a result, there has been no shortage of reality TV stars over the years who've been arrested and wound up behind bars — some staying there temporarily, others for a very, very long time.

Being a celebrity — particularly one of the reality TV variety — is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. When laws are broken, consequences follow, and that's the harsh lesson learned by a pretty significant percentage of folks who've become famous courtesy of reality TV. With that in mind, read on for a closer look at some reality stars who have been arrested.

Jerry Harris of Cheer

Making its Netflix debut in January 2020, "Cheer" chronicled the exploits of the cheer squad of Texas-based Navarro College, following the team's members as they prepared for a national competition. The show became not just a hit but a phenomenon, capturing the hearts of such celebrity fans as Reese Witherspoon, Gabrielle Union, Chrissy Teigen, and more. 

Among the standout members of the Navarro squad was Jerry Harris, whose can-do attitude and inspiring backstory made him so beloved by viewers that the GoFundMe he'd launched prior to the series' premiere exceeded its $50,000 goal. However, it didn't take long for the instant stardom Harris experienced to turn to notoriety — in September of that year, he was arrested on charges of child pornography. The arrest followed an FBI investigation into claims from twin brothers that Harris allegedly offered them money to produce "sexually explicit" videos and photos of themselves, which they sent to Harris — when they were just 13.

Harris entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars. At his sentencing, Harris apologized to his victims. "I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you. I pray deep down that your suffering comes to an end," he said (as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times), insisting, "I'm not an evil person." That apology apparently fell on deaf ears. "You literally preyed on my brother and I like some animal hungry for young children," said one of the brothers.

Richard Hatch of Survivor

When "Survivor" made its television debut in the spring of 2000, the show proved to be a TV game-changer. At the forefront of the first season's many colorful personalities was Richard Hatch, with no less than David Letterman nicknaming him the "fat naked guy" due to his aversion to clothing. He also became the show's first winner, taking home the $1 million prize. 

That same year, Hatch was arrested over accusations of physically abusing his son, then 9 years old; he was later cleared of those charges. Then, in 2001, Hatch was arrested again, this time on charges of assault stemming from a physical altercation with an ex-boyfriend. He was subsequently convicted but was then declared innocent when the conviction was overturned. However, in the blunder of all blunders, Hatch failed to pay tax on his "Survivor" winnings. He was indicted by the Department of Justice and charged with federal tax evasion, bank fraud, and other related crimes. He was found guilty, and sentenced to 51 months in the slammer. He was released in 2009.

He was then arrested yet again later that year, hours after appearing on NBC's "Today," because he reportedly didn't get clearance to do the interview from the federal Bureau of Prisons; the mix-up led the ACLU to call for his release. Later that year he was ordered back to prison for nine more months because he was supposed to refile his 2000 and 2001 taxes and pay the outstanding amount, but hadn't. He was finally released in 2011.

Austin 'Chumlee' Russell of Pawn Stars

Who knew that a Las Vegas pawn shop would become the setting for one of television's most enduring reality shows? That's what happened with "Pawn Stars," which premiered in 2009 and catapulted employee Austin Russell — known by his nickname "Chumlee" — to instant stardom. 

Russell's life took a dark and unexpected turn in 2016 when he was arrested on gun and drug charges. Interestingly, this came about when cops showed up on Russell's doorstep to perform a search of his home on a warrant involving an entirely different matter. "On March 9, 2016, a search warrant was served at the residence of Austin Lee Russell regarding a sexual assault investigation," said Larry Hadfield of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, as reported by CNN. "During the course of the search warrant service, several illegal items including methamphetamine, marijuana and firearms were located." Russell, Hadfield clarified, had not been charged with sexual assault.

Russell entered a plea deal, avoiding jail time by agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for three years of probation. "We are pleased with the outcome and that there are no sexual assault charges," Russell's attorney, David Chesnoff, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. After the legal dust had settled, Russell insisted he'd learned his lesson. "You know we always have to live with the choices we've made," he told KSNV News3LV. "Even more so we have to learn from the choices we make, you know?"

Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino of Jersey Shore

Of all the goombahs who skyrocketed to fame via MTV's reality hit "Jersey Shore" during the series' original run from 2009-2012, Mike Sorrentino is arguably the most flamboyant. Nicknaming himself "The Situation," Sorrentino became a fan favorite for his wacky antics, quirky turns of phrase, and obsession with showing off his chiseled abs.  

In 2014, Sorrentino was arrested after getting into a brawl with his brother at the New Jersey tanning salon they co-owned, a fight that was reportedly sparked when their employees called the cops after their paychecks bounced. He avoided jail by taking anger-management classes and paying a fine. "You won't see Mr. Sorrentino in this court again," his lawyer promised, as reported by That didn't end up being true; just a few months later, Sorrentino and his brother were indicted on charges of tax fraud after they neglected to pay tax on nearly $9 million of income. The brothers were hit with additional charges in 2017. Sorrentino pled guilty and was sentenced to eight months in prison. He was released in 2019, and went on to return to reality TV in the spinoff series "Jersey Shore Family Vacation."

For Sorrentino, spending all those months behind bars proved to be a life-changing wake-up call. "Do I rise above or do I get swallowed up by circumstance?" he told Us Weekly. "I chose to be accountable. I chose to hold my head high and handle this whole situation from start to finish with grace and class."

Josh Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting

Josh Duggar is the oldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, as seen on the TLC reality hit "19 Kids and Counting." In 2015, a police report was unsealed revealing that Jim Bob and Michelle attempted to cover up allegations that Josh had molested several young girls while they slept. The girls in question were eventually revealed to be his sisters, with a family friend revealing further dark details in court. The ensuing scandal led TLC to pull "19 Kids" from the schedule, and then cancel it completely (although the network did greenlight a spinoff, "Counting On," featuring several Duggar sisters).  

In 2021, U.S. Marshalls arrested Josh. At the time, no charges had been filed, but authorities confirmed an investigation was ongoing. The following day, he was formally charged with both receiving and possessing child pornography. It wasn't long after that TLC decided to sever ties with the Duggars entirely, canceling "Counting On."

Duggar pled not guilty but was ultimately convicted on both charges. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, less than the 20 that prosecutors were seeking. "This isn't the sentence we asked for, but it is a sentence we're proud of," United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas David Clay Fowlkes said in a statement, as reported by People. Duggar's sentence was subsequently extended by an additional two months after he was placed in solitary confinement when he was reportedly discovered to be in possession of a contraband cell phone.

Khloé Kardashian of Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Yes, even the Kardashians have had the occasional brush with the law. In fact, viewers of the first season of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" will recall that Kardashian sibling Khloé Kardashian was pulled over and arrested on suspicion of DUI — and the whole thing was filmed by the reality show's cameras. "I really wasn't that drunk," she told her family at the time, as reported by E! News. "It wasn't a high percentage." TMZ's report, however, disputed that, claiming her blood alcohol level was .13, well above the legal limit of .08. According to the outlet, she was sentenced to 36 months of probation in addition to completing an alcohol education program and performing community service. When she blew off both those requirements, she was then sentenced to serve 30 days in jail.

Despite that 30-day sentence, Kardashian didn't wind up spending much time in jail; when she showed up to begin serving her sentence, she was released because the jail was overcrowded. Ultimately, she spent just three hours behind bars.

During a 2008 appearance on Tyra Banks' daytime talk show, Kardashian admitted she'd learned her lesson. "What I could have done is just unthinkable," she said, as reported by People. "I will never, ever do that again."

Survivor's Jonny Fairplay

Jon Dalton became a villainous "Survivor" legend when he competed in the show's Pearl Island season in 2003. Jonny Fairplay, as he'd dubbed himself, feigned grief when he supposedly learned that his grandmother had died in the midst of filming — even though she hadn't, and the whole thing had been a lie. 

More than a decade later, in December 2020 Dalton and his mother surrendered to authorities when they learned there was an arrest warrant out for them — because they'd allegedly ripped off that very same not-deceased grandmother. As the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office in Virginia told WSLS News, Dalton and his mom, Patsy Hall, allegedly stole a bunch of stuff from the home of his grandmother, Jean Cook, with their haul including some barstools, an end table, and a chair, along with a silver necklace reportedly worth $5,000. Dalton professed his innocence: "I (we) have been unjustly charged by a family member. I welcome the opportunity to vindicate myself (and my mother)," he told the Associated Press following his arrest.

A few months later, the larceny charges against Dalton and his mother had been dismissed. "These warrants were issued based on the statements of a disgruntled family member," Dalton told Entertainment Weekly, stating that a police investigation of those claims was never undertaken, and the charges had been dropped due to insufficient evidence. "We are disappointed that this ever was allowed to happen and relieved that it is over," he said, adding, "Love to Jean Cook ... aka dead grandma."

Joshua Tel Warner of Deadliest Catch

Joshua Tel Warner may not be as famous as some of the aforementioned reality show personalities, but he did appear on "Deadliest Catch" while serving as a deckhand on the F/V Wizard. He became more famous in late 2009 when The Oregonian reported he was wanted as a suspect in a series of bank robberies and had reportedly fled (possibly to Canada, Mexico, or the East Coast). Days later, he was arrested in East Peoria, Illinois, identified when he was pulled over by police. 

According to CBS News, Warner was suspected of three separate robberies (hitting one of the two banks he robbed a second time) in Eugene, Oregon. During a press conference at the time of his arrest, Det. Jeff Donaca of the Eugene Police Department indicated that the 23-year-old Warner wasn't exactly a criminal mastermind, given that he'd bragged about his crimes to "Deadliest Catch" crew members. "I watched the show too," said Donaca. "I don't think you can end up on national TV, make a spectacle of yourself, and not end up getting caught for three bank robberies."

Warner entered a guilty plea, and was sentenced to nine years behind bars. At the sentencing, he reportedly apologized to the bank tellers that he'd traumatized during the robberies.

Adam Jasinski of Big Brother

Adam Jasinski emerged victorious in the ninth season of "Big Brother," winning the season's $500,000 prize in 2008. He infamously made "Big Brother" history, becoming the reality competition's first contestant to be fired from his job over something he said on the show — specifically, when he used a slur targeting the mentally challenged. After his win, Jasinski hatched a clever (but illegal) scheme to turn that money into more money by buying 2,000 oxycodone pills that he planned to resell at a hefty profit. Before that could happen, however, he was arrested in 2009 when the guy buying the pills from him turned out to be an undercover DEA agent. At the time, Jasinski faced 20 years behind bars, in addition to fines that could exceed $1 million. 

He pleaded guilty to the drug charges, along with an additional charge of failing to file a tax return for the year in which he'd won "Big Brother." Jasinski was sentenced to four years in prison, a far cry from the 20 he could have received. 

After his release, Jasinski got his life together, putting his hard-partying past behind him and embracing sobriety with the help of counseling. He went on to serve as a mentor/counselor at a drug and mental health treatment facility launched by his mother. He also wrote a book, "My Kid's on Drugs. Now What?"

Michael Skupin of Survivor

Michael Skupin made "Survivor" history while competing in the series' second season, which took place in the Australian Outback, when he became the first "Survivor" contestant to be medically evacuated after suffering burns to his hands when he passed out from smoke inhalation and fell into a fire. Skupin returned for another chance at the $1 million prize when he joined the 25th season in 2012; he didn't win. 

In 2016, Skupin was the subject of a criminal investigation into a Ponzi scheme he was allegedly running. When authorities searched his laptop, not only did they find evidence of those crimes, but they also discovered child pornography. He was charged with six counts related to the child porn, in addition to five counts of larceny and one count of racketeering stemming from the Ponzi scheme. 

Skupin pleaded not guilty to the child porn charges, but was convicted on four counts of possessing child sexually abusive materials, and entered a guilty plea to the charges related to the Ponzi scheme. In 2016, he was sentenced to a prison term of between one and four years. Skupin insisted he was innocent when it came to the child porn. "I maintain that I didn't do it," he said at his sentencing, as reported by People. "That's all I maintain. There were hundreds of people who had access to my computer." He subsequently launched an appeal, but it was denied.

Geoffrey Paschel of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Daysa

Geoffrey Paschel was introduced to viewers of "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" back in February 2020, with cameras following him and Russian fiancée Varya. Paschel is something of a cautionary tale for reality TV producers, given that he had amassed a lengthy criminal record before being tapped for the show; he'd been arrested in June 2019 for allegedly violently assaulting his then-girlfriend. In fact, before the season even premiered, Paschel appeared in court to face charges, with the appearance revealing similar allegations dating back to 2018. 

In 2021, Paschel went to trial, where he was convicted on several charges including aggravated assault and kidnapping. While Paschel claimed that the victim's injuries were self-inflicted, her claims — that he'd thrown her to the ground and dragged her after slamming her head against a wall — were consistent with her injuries, which included large bruises and cuts in addition to a concussion. 

At the sentencing hearing, Paschel was sent to prison for 18 years, with no possibility of parole (a decision made, in part, in consideration of his prior convictions, which included two federal drug trafficking charges). "With the sentence in this case, no other victims will be abused by this offender for a long time," Knox County Tennessee District Attorney Charme Allen in a statement, reported People

Maurice Fayne of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta

Maurice Fayne was known as Arkansas Mo to viewers of "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta," and he appeared in nine episodes as Karlie Redd's boyfriend during the 2019 season. 

In May 2020, Fayne was arrested on federal fraud charges. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (as reported by People), Payne applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, which is intended to help businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. He received more than $2 million for his trucking business, based on claims he had 107 employees and a monthly payroll of nearly $1.5 million. However, authorities claimed the money wasn't spent on business-related expenses; instead, Faye allegedly used $40,000 to pay child support, and spent another $85,000 on jewelry, including a diamond bracelet and a Rolex Presidential watch, plus $136,000 to lease a Rolls-Royce. "The defendant allegedly stole money meant to assist hard-hit employees and businesses during these difficult times, and instead greedily used the money to bankroll his lavish purchases of jewelry and other personal items," Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department said in a statement.

The investigation discovered that not only had Fayne fraudulently obtained that loan, but was also using the money to prop up a massive Ponzi scheme he'd been running, enticing investors to pump money into his trucking business — which he would then use to fund his extravagant lifestyle. Fayne entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in prison. 

Chad Johnson of The Bachelorette

Appearing on the 12th season of "The Bachelorette," Chad Johnson was one of the many men attempting to woo JoJo Fletcher. It didn't take him long to emerge as the suitor that viewers most loved to hate, earning the nickname "Bad Chad" for his outrageous antics. 

In 2020, Johnson was arrested in Los Angeles after his girlfriend, Annalise Mishler, called 911 while the two were in the midst of a heated argument. Mishler reportedly told the 911 operator that Johnson was drunk and violent, alleging he'd physically assaulted her and punched a hole in a wall in her home. He was booked on charges of felony domestic battery and robbery, with the latter charge due to Mishler's claim that he'd taken her cell phone from her. Johnson later addressed the incident with TooFab, admitting he was not only drunk, but he was so drunk he'd blacked out and didn't remember what he'd done. As he explained, they'd recently broken up, and he was so distraught he became wildly intoxicated. "I screwed up 1,000 percent," he said of his behavior, despite having no memory of it. "You can't take that kind of stuff back."

He was subsequently hit with six felony charges. He ultimately managed to avoid any jail time when he entered a plea deal, pleading no contest to a count of vandalism and another of witness intimidation. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to attend domestic violence classes.

Teen Mom's Amber Portwood

Amber Portwood made her television debut in the first season of MTV's "16 and Pregnant," a reality show whose title told viewers pretty much all they needed to know. She then graduated to the spinoff, "Teen Mom," a follow-up with an equally explanatory title.

Portwood, like many of the reality stars previously mentioned, is also a convicted felon. That's because of an unfortunate 2010 incident that was captured on camera and aired on MTV, in which she physically attacked then-boyfriend Gary Shirley. Authorities investigated, which led to Portwood's arrest. While that arrest didn't lead to jail time (she was put on probation), the next one did, when she was nabbed in 2012 for possessing an array of prescription pills that hadn't been prescribed to her during a routine probation search. After spending a month in jail, she cut a plea deal and went to rehab. When she ditched rehab and then failed a drug test, though, her original five-year sentence was reimposed, and she was sent back to the slammer. She was released early in November 2013 after serving 17 months.

In 2019 she was arrested again, once more for domestic battery, after allegedly threatening her then-boyfriend Andrew Glennon with a machete. She entered a guilty plea on charges of domestic battery and intimidation and was sentenced to 906 days of probation. If that probation was violated, the judge in the case told her, she'd be sent back to prison for five more years.