UPDATED, 1:06 PM: Austin Russell, known to reality TV fans as Chumlee on History’s Pawn Stars, will plead guilty in Las Vegas to attempted possession of a controlled substance. He was given three years’ probation on the misdemeanor charge but will avoid jail time. He also was facing a felony count of ownership or possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, but that charge will be stayed under today’s deal. Russell agreed to attend counseling and forfeit property seized by Vegas police in a March raid on his home. The gun charge will be dismissed if he completes the terms of his probation.
PREVIOUSLY, March 9: Austin “Chumlee” Russell, who has starred on the popular History program Pawn Stars since its 2009 launch, was arrested today on gun and weapons charges, Las Vegas police confirmed to Deadline. Officers were serving a warrant at Russell’s house in a sexual assault case when they found at least one gun along with methamphetamine and marijuana.
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department said in a statement that Russell, 33, was charged with drug possession and “prohibited person in possession of a firearm.” He was booked in the Clark County Detention Center, and a spokesman at the facility said Russell remains in custody. (His mug shot is at right.) Police said he has not been charged in the sexual assault case but added that the investigation in continuing.
A spokesman for History parent A+E Networks said the company had no comment. Neither did series producer Leftfield Pictures.
Production wrapped February 24 on the 12th season of Pawn Stars, which quickly became History’s most popular series after its June 2009 premiere. And the burly regular everyone calls “Chumlee” became an instant fan favorite. At its height, the series drew 7 million viewers. During its 10th season in 2015, it averaged 1.8 million viewers in Live+Same Day. The series spurred spinoffs and offshoots at the cable net — including Counting Cars and American Restoration — and created a reality subgenre about pawn brokers and their stores.
Set mostly at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop off the Vegas Strip, the series revolves around four main characters: store owner Rick Harrison, his father and shop founder Richard “Old Man” Harrison, son Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, and the latter’s childhood friend Russell — who earned the “Chumlee” nickname from the walrus sidekick in the old CBS cartoon series Tennessee Tuxedo. It centers on the bartering between the Gold & Silver employees and customers who bring valuable and/or wacky items into the shop. More than 425 episodes of Pawn Stars have been produced to date.
Lisa de Moraes and Anita Busch contributed to this report.