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Keach Freed After Six-Month Term; to Speak on Drug Abuse

Associated Press

Actor Stacy Keach, freed after six months in a British prison for cocaine smuggling, returned to the United States on Friday and pledged to campaign cross-country against drug abuse.

“I can’t tell you enough how great it is to be alive, to be home and in New York City,” Keach said upon his arrival at Kennedy International Airport. “It was great to fly in and see that lady with the torch.”

The star of television’s “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” thanked fans for the letters they wrote him while he served his time at Reading Prison, working in the library. He smiled, blew kisses and flashed the thumbs-up sign for photographers.

‘I’ll Take a Little Rest’

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He said he would devote much of his time to anti-drug efforts. “I’ll take a little rest, and then I’ll be going out. (I’ll) talk on campuses. I’ll be talking more about that later. Today is not the day. I’m whacked.”

Keach, 44, was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport on April 4, 1984, carrying 1.3 ounces of cocaine. Also arrested was his secretary, Deborah Steele, 41, who had a small quantity in her pocket. She was later sentenced to three months in prison but was given a suspended sentence upon appeal.

In December, Keach told a judge that he had used the drug “as a means of trying to alleviate exhaustion,” and had been addicted since January, 1984.

Leniency Pleas Refused

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The judge refused appeals for leniency and sentenced Keach to nine months. He served six months and was given three months off for good behavior.

Keach told reporters outside the British prison: “In spite of my misfortune in your country, it is still a country that I’m very fond of. . . . I’m very grateful that I’ve not been deported and I hope one day to be able to return.”

However, the British Home Office indicated that Keach would be banned from returning to Britain.


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