Obviously, Kal Penn (whose non-stage name is Kalpen Modi) doesn't have Charlie Sheen's mojo. The actor (of the pro-weed Harold and Kumar franchise) didn't have the foresight to hire a police escort to race him across town last April, as he prepared to take a hiatus from his job as an Obama staffer in order to film a movie. Penn instead ambled around the District alone, and paid for it when he was mugged on S Street NW. Police arrested 20-year-old Marcellus Chambers for the crime, but Penn wasn't sure Chambers was the guy. Court records say when cops put a photo array in front of him, Penn balked.
Still, the actor grew impatient when the legal process seemed to stall. Months after Chambers was charged, there were no hearings scheduled, so in an email to City Desk in November, Penn referred to the mugging case as going "absurdly slow." (The U.S. Attorney's office, however, pointed out that it had missed no deadlines and was "well within legal timelines.") The pace picked up in February, when Chambers received a seven-count indictment.
A few weeks ago, Chambers pleaded guilty to two charges—robbery and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
It had already come out that Chambers had used Penn's credit card and iPhone (that's how cops tracked him). But the indictment added a sad layer to the story. Not too long after the robbery, Chambers allegedly used the credit card to buy gas, groceries, and a meal at McDonald's. The detail seems to reveal that Chambers was more desperate for money than he was interested in holding up a celebrity. A call to Chambers' lawyer wasn't immediately returned.
Chambers' plea agreement says he could face up to 48 months in prison. He's scheduled to be sentenced on June 7.
Penn didn't respond to a request for comment.
Kal Penn’s Mugger Used Credit Card to Buy Gas was originally published by Washington City Paper on Apr 26, 2011