Since its premiere in 2009, “Pawn Stars” has become one of the most successful and highest-watched reality TV shows, gaining fans worldwide for its charming and entertaining stars, and all the incredible historical items which enter their Las Vegas shop.
While fan-favorite Chumlee was one of those who got the best out of “Pawn Stars” rise to stardom, there’s always a dark side to fame that isn’t so nice to discover. In his case, his success has been partially overshadowed by the serious legal issues he has had in recent years, some of which included possessing illegal substances, and other not-so-great items in the eyes of authorities.
So what have all of Chumlee’s legal problems been about? Stay here to know them all!
The beginning of Chumlee’s legal issues goes back to March 2016, when a sexual assault complaint was filed against him. During the investigation, local Las Vegas police raided his house, and found several items such as unregistered firearms and illegal substances such as methamphetamine and large amounts of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia, the latter leading authorities to suspect that Chumlee, whose real name is Austin Lee Russell, was distributing narcotics.
As revealed in a report by USA Today, one of the most eyebrow-raising funds in Chumlee’s house was the so-called ‘Chum Chum’ room, which despite not being illegal, prompted questions about its use as it contained interesting items such as a dance pole and some bills.
As well, it was reported that most of the illegal substances found in Chumlee’s house were in a vault stored on his lower floor, which he was reluctant to open under the argument that private items were inside it. He ultimately opened upon the police insistence, revealing several ounces of marijuana which Chumlee argued had been bought for personal use. However, that gave the police enough reasons to seize Chumlee’s items and arrest him for possession of firearms and drugs, though he was soon released under a $62,000 bail.
Outcome and Sentence
Although all the conditions leading to the raid of his house and subsequent arrest were serious, somehow Chumlee made it out of it better than expected. Despite the 20 felonies he was charged with upon his arrest, those weren’t related to the sexual assault accusations, as the investigation of this alleged crime was still ongoing at the time.
While the charges for possession of weapons and drugs were serious enough to cause worry, Chumlee’s defense managed to lessen the damage by negotiating a plea deal which would keep him from going behind bars. Though details about the deal were kept secret, it’s known that Chumlee surrendered all the items found in his house in exchange for pleading guilty to a gross misdemeanor for drug possession. On the other hand, the charge for prohibited gun possession was stayed while the sexual assault case didn’t go anywhere as no proof against Chumlee was found in the investigation, as reported by CBS News.
As part of the deal, Chumlee was sentenced to three years on probation and counseling, a period during which he had to stay out of legal trouble to have his felony charges dropped to misdemeanors, as TMZ reported at the time. In the end, Chumlee finished his probation period without major trouble, and is now enjoying the life of a free man.
What Happened To His House?
Even though Chumlee didn’t pay jail time for his illegal endeavors, these issues had some consequences in his life. Right before he was arrested in March 2016, Chumlee had actively worked as a DJ in numerous Las Vegas-based nightclubs. However, as reported by TMZ at the time, his legal issues prompted him to cancel his DJ performances and become more careful about his daily activities to stay out of trouble.
This also extended to his Las Vegas mansion, which was put on the market for $1,849,900 just one year after being raided. The house was part of a 2-acre property, and had nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms, large pools, a room for movies, and many other luxury accommodations, but that didn’t help it sell quickly. Instead, it remained on the market for almost two years and several price reductions, ultimately selling for $1,383,700 in early 2019.
That being said, Chumlee’s legal issues didn’t affect his appearances in “Pawn Stars”, as the show wasn’t filming at the time he was in the middle of his drugs and arms possession case.
The Candy Shop Issue
Besides his job at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Chumlee has started a couple of ventures over the years. The most famous of his businesses is Chumlee’s Candy On The Blvd, which opened in mid-2017 at the Pawn Plaza building owned by Rick Harrison.
Hey Folks! @chumlee will be here in the shop today at 12:00pm today 06/03/23! Come say hello to the man himself! We can’t wait to see you!
While Chumlee’s Candy offers lots of memorabilia and nostalgia-inducing sweets, the business is mostly a tourist attraction for those who want a chance to meet Chumlee on their way to Las Vegas.
However, not everything has been positive for the shop, at least not in the beginning. As it happened, shortly before Chumlee’s shop opened, a man named Patrick Keys bought the online domains chumleescandyontheblvd.com and chumleescandy.com, thinking that Chumlee would most likely buy the domains for his business for a good price.
However, Chumlee and his legal team had different plans, and in August of that year, they sent a cease and desist order to make Keys transfer the rights of the sites to Chumlee. As admitted by Chumlee’s team in an interview with TMZ, Keys had unauthorizedly used the shop’s name on the domains’ register, thus violating trademark rights.
In the end, it’s unclear if Keys handed over the rights of the domains to Chumlee, but nowadays neither of those domains are active websites, and Chumlee’s Candy promotes its business mostly on its Facebook page.
What Is Chumlee Doing Now?
The life of a worldwide famous reality star is a busy one, but somehow Chumlee has found the time to focus on many side projects, while also keeping his job at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.
Besides his shop Chumlee’s Candy On The Blvd, he also owns the online store Pet Shopping TV, which offers its customers a long list of accessories, clothes, and food for pets. On top of that, Chumlee started his new snack brand Awesome Beef Jerky, which was set to be sold around Las Vegas, and in his candy shop’s Pawn Plaza location starting in 2023.
On top of that, Chumlee sells his original merchandise online through the website chumlee.com and also a variety of items on the marketplace whatnot.com. As well, Chumlee’s social media has proved to be a great place for him to do business, as he’s often seen promoting brands, books and businesses on it.
Regarding his personal life, not much is known about Chumlee’s family or his romantic endeavors. Although in 2019 he tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend Olivia Rademann, the two went separate ways soon afterwards, but details aren’t well known. She’s now married to poker player Jake Schindler, with whom she welcomed a daughter in 2020.
What Happened To “Pawn Stars”?
Since the premiere of “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel in 2009, the show has become one of the biggest and most successful names in reality TV. It’s that same popularity which resulted in the creation of an international franchise around the show, including the most recent spin-off – “Pawn Stars Do America”.
Premiered in 2022, the series takes Chumlee along with Rick and Corey Harrison to several states to discover what treasures have been hiding from them. As admitted by Chumlee in an interview with the Las Vegas-Review Journal, by April 2023 the show’s second season was in the works, and planned on taking him and his co-hosts to 15 cities around the country.
That being said, this new spin-off isn’t a replacement for the original “Pawn Stars”, as the old and beloved show most recently premiered its 21st season in late 2022.
All in all, it’s been a wild ride for Chumlee, but he’s apparently left behind all his issues with the law, to turn his life around and accomplish all the great things he has these days.