In plea agreement, Chong, 64, of Pacific Palisades and his family-run
business, Nice Dreams Enterprises, admits to conspiring to sell marijuana
pipes via Web site promotions.

Actor Tommy Chong of the spaced-out dope-smoking comedy duo "Cheech &
Chong" pleaded guilty today to a federal conspiracy charge of selling drug
paraphernalia over the Internet.

Chong, 64, of Pacific Palisades, Calif., and his family-run business, Nice
Dreams Enterprises, admitted to conspiring to sell marijuana pipes via Web
site promotions that featured the comedian's celebrity endorsement.

Under a federal plea agreement, Chong also admitted in a Pittsburgh
courtroom that he promoted the drug paraphernalia during personal
appearances around the country.

He could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But federal
prosecutors said the actual penalty will likely be more lenient.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab set a sentencing hearing for Sept. 11 and
released him on $20,000 bond.

Chong's plea represented a public relations victory for a local federal
program called "Operation Pipe Dreams," which targets drug paraphernalia
sales. The operation, which began in 2000, has 17 cases pending, most from
the Pittsburgh area.

"These cases can be brought wherever the Internet is used," said assistant
U.S. Attorney Paul Brysh.

The Canadian-born Chong is best known as the bearded and bespectacled
member of "Cheech & Chong," who along with partner Cheech Marin became
synonymous with the drug humor of the 1970s through comedy skits such as
"Dave's Not Here" and movies like "Up In Smoke."

First gaining national notoriety in 1970, the pair made a series of comedy
albums that won them a Grammy award and helped launch their subsequent
Hollywood movie careers.

Chong was accused of using his Web sites www.chongglass.com and
www.tommychong.com. to sell thousands of pipes and glass bongs - or water
pipes. Many of the products were emblazoned with images of Chong's face and
some bore his autograph.

U.S. agents raided his Gardena, California-based business on Feb. 24, and
confiscated about $120,000 in proceeds from the sales. If you want other
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Pubdate: Tue, 13 May 2003
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Webpage: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-051303chong_wr,1,3084699.story
Copyright: 2003 Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Website: http://www.latimes.com/