Gaming's greatest ex-cons

Dec 6, 2007

What do James Earl Cash, Tommy Vercetti and Sam Fisher all have in common? Two things: First, they've all got criminal records and hard time under their belts. Second, they're not real. They're characters in games. But for every fictional Riddick or Torque, there are dozens of people with very real criminal records who've lent their likenesses and/or voices to games. After literally minutes of exhaustive research at sources likeThe Smoking Gun (which is also where we lifted most of the mug shots in this article), we've assembled a rogue's gallery of some of the most notable examples, so that you might spot them in the future.

Name: Steve-O (aka Steven Glover)
Appeared in: Jackass (PS2/PSP/DS), ESPN NFL 2K5 (PS2/Xbox), Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PS2/Xbox/PC/GC), Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix (PSP)
Rap sheet: We never knew this before, but it turns out that getting naked in public and stapling your nutsack to your thigh isn't just a good way to have fun without drugs or alcohol - it's illegal, especially if you do it in Louisiana. Steve-O's most infamous run-in with the law began when the hyper-obnoxious and frequently nude Jackass star performed the "Butterfly" stunt at the Abyss nightclub in 2002, after which he was arrested, charged with obscenity and assault and eventually put on probation and barred from ever performing in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana again. Later incidents saw Steve-O arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into Sweden in 2003 (for which he paid a fine and admitted to drug possession), and charged with disorderly conduct after publicly pissing on potato chips (yes, really) during a Lollapalooza show in Pennsylvania.

Name: Tim Allen
Appeared in: Home Improvement (SNES), The Santa Clause 3 (GBA)
Heard in: Toy Story 2 (PC/PSone), Toy Story Racer (PSone)
Rap sheet: Tim Allen's stint in prison is rarely discussed, but hardly a secret; before he was synonymous with family-oriented comedies, Allen (then named Timothy Allen Dick) was a cocaine dealer. In 1978, he was nabbed in Michigan while carrying more than a pound of the stuff, and subsequently served more than two years in prison before turning his life around and embarking on a career path that included some of the most aggressively mediocre tie-in games ever made. His run-ins with the law weren't entirely over, though; in 1997, Allen was pulled over by police and charged with driving drunk, for which he pled guilty and paid a fine. Now, if only someone could figure out a way to make starring in videogame adaptations of The Santa Clause 3 retroactively a felony, he'd probably be in violation of some Three Strikes law and we'd never have to hear that grunting noise again.

Name: Danny Trejo
Appeared in: Def Jam: Fight for NY (PS2/Xbox)
Heard in: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2/Xbox/PC), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP/PS2)
Rap sheet: In movies or in games, Danny "Machete" Trejo has always been a scary-ass mofo, largely because he used to be one in real life. Specific details about his early life of crime are sketchy, although in aninterview with the UK Guardian, he claims to have started by smoking pot at eight, doing heroin at 12 and then graduating to armed robbery, all of which put him in and out of jail through his teenage years before finally landing him in at least three separate California prisons between 1963 and 1972. Prison boxing and a 12-step program helped Trejo turn his life around, and his record since his release has been spotless. Of course, that doesn't make him any less fun to play as in the raptastic Def Jam: Fight for NY, in which you can put his tattooed muscles and intense, mustachioed glare to good use hurling Flavor Flav through a penthouse window.