On June 22nd, actor Sam Jones III was sentenced to a year in federal prison for conspiring to sell drugs. His self-surrender date to the low-security facility in Lompoc has yet to be announced. I've been a fan of Jones's work for some time, having seen most of his TV appearances (Smallville, Blue Mountain State, ER, etc.) and all of his movies (Glory Road, Home Of The Brave, Zig Zag...) I was somewhat perplexed as to how this actor, who gives off a spiritual, intense and extremely likable screen persona could be mixed up in something like drug dealing and given the moniker, "The Hollywood Connection". So I caught up with Mr. Jones and asked for an interview to get his side of the story. He readily agreed...
Adriana Davalos: First off, why did you agree to tell me your story?
Sam Jones, III: It's simple. You asked and it’s time for my fans and everyone else to know the truth. For two years I have been quiet about this subject because I didn't want to damage my case in any way. I sat back and was quiet about it while the tabloids made up their own stories and said whatever they wanted about me. There were so many ridiculously untrue statements written about me and it seemed like the public would just believe what they read. Sometimes the media thinks they have a story, but it's not really the true story until you actually dig a little deeper.
AD: So tell me, what IS the story?
SJIII: First off, there are certain things about my case that I'm not allowed to talk about, but I'll do my best with what I can talk about. I had a childhood friend that moved to California with aspirations of becoming an actor. So I was trying to assist him in that area. At some point and without my knowledge, he got into debt with who he thought were people connected to the Mexican drug cartel for 90 grand from a drug deal that had gone bad. Those people were actually DEA Agents. Once again I had no clue about any of this. He comes to me asking for help. Now understand, this guy is my oldest friend, I've known him since we were 14, he has a wife and three kids, he's fearing for his life and he's desperately asking for my help. So I loaned him $35,000 to help pay off the debt, but in order to pay off the whole of the debt, he gets the idea to use that money to buy and resell oxycotyn. He got himself arrested. I put that crazy event in my past and was no longer friends with him. He told the police that he got 35 thousand from me and a year later the Feds came knocking on my door and they arrested me.
AD: Whoa. That's messed up...
SJIII: No kidding. I thought his life was in danger.
AD: So how did you get the tag, "The Hollywood Connection" ?
SJIII: Could have been my friend, an agent, the paparazzi, who knows? The media picked it up and suddenly I have a nickname that makes me look like I’m some sort of kingpin. It's crazy.
AD: I heard the prosecution recanted the title?
SJIII: Yeah. At the sentencing the first words from the prosecutor to the judge was something like, "I would like to state for the record that Mr. Jones is NOT the Hollywood Connection."
AD: It sounds like you are innocent, but you're serving time?
(Jones went silent for a long time before speaking) I've known my friend for a long time. I also knew he was not a perfect guy and had a history, but like I said, his back was against the wall and he was reaching out from the 9th grade for help. But deep down, my intuition was telling me that something wasn't right. I should have listened. That's probably my biggest mistake. How all of this is interpreted is up to the lawyers and the courts and God. This is the way it's played out. Anyway you spin it, ultimately I am responsible for my own action I should have just said no sorry I can't help you.
AD: Are you frightened at the prospect of prison?
SJIII: NO. Not at all now actually. In the beginning I was. But since all of this first happened, my faith in God has grown so strong. I'm generally a positive person and I've actually hired ALLENATORE, ESPOSITO,& RAFFIN, www.criminalconsultants.com is theire web site. They’re consultants that teach you the ins and outs of prison, just like Martha Stewart did. They are the best in the country at what they do. They teach you how to act once inside, what situations to avoid, and that nothing happens when you’re in there and that you get out when you’re supposed to, that sort of thing.
AD: How has all this affected your acting career?
SJIII: Well, the first thing the Feds do is take your passport. Since Blue Mountain State is shot in Montreal, that gig was over. Also, there were some in Hollywood who bought the sound bites and thought I was a drug dealer. It was pretty bizarre. You learn who you’re real friends are quick. Since the June 22nd sentencing though, when the prosecutor "removed the tag", I've actually had a few offers and am reading some scripts. I also have a script in development that I co-wrote, and I have received some phone calls of apology. Go figure.
AD: So what have you been doing with your time?
SJIII: I'm a workaholic, so that sudden slow down threw me for a loop. But just a small one, because like my mom always told me when one door closes another door opens. I've been dabbling in music for years, so I took the time away from acting to really dive in, something I wanted to do for a long time. Now I have an album in the works and in two weeks I'll be shooting a music video of my new single "Juice & Vodka" with Karissa Shannon. Also, though I've been doing this before all this happened, I mentor inner city kids every Saturday at the Mark Ricks Sports Camp. Ironically, I teach them about thinking before they make decisions that could affect their lives. I tell them about my own personal experiences. I teach them to be leaders, not followers. I also tell them that I expect my message to reach each and every one of them, I tell them that they are lucky that I'm going to jail so now they will never have to go because they get to learn from my life experience. It's funny, I'll probably miss those kids the most when I'm away.
AD: Have you learned anything from this experience?
SJIII: Listen to your intuition. It's given to us by God. We know what right and wrong is, we know that uneasy feeling. Sure, life can be confusing sometimes, but if you listen to your intuition, really listen, you'll do the right thing.
To hear Sam Jones, III up coming single ft. Karissa Shannon click here.