Burglary charge against actor Torn dropped

US prosecutors today dropped a burglary charge against actor Rip Torn, clearing the way for him to seek special probation that might settle charges that he broke into a bank while drunk and armed in January.

The Emmy-winning actor, 79, applied for accelerated rehabilitation, a programme for first-time non-violent offenders that allows charges to be dropped after a probation period.

Prosecutors will argue against the application at a hearing on August 11, Litchfield State’s Attorney David Shepack said.

Torn spoke in court in Litchfield, Connecticut today to answer questions from the judge only.

Despite opposing the special probation request, Shepack said dropping the burglary charge was appropriate because nothing indicated Torn intended to burgle the Salisbury bank when he broke in, thinking it was his own nearby home. He was carrying a loaded gun.

That charge had blocked Torn from requesting the special probation.

He has pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass, carrying a weapon while intoxicated, carrying a weapon without a permit and criminal mischief.

He completed an alcohol rehabilitation programme and remains in outpatient treatment, including Alcoholics Anonymous, and has gotten rid of all his weapons, his lawyer said.

“He’s done very well and all reports have been successful in treatment and abstinence,” the lawyer, A. Thomas Waterfall, said, calling the treatment “an ongoing endeavour”.

Mr Waterfall said Torn was “very excited about some upcoming projects”, although he would not say whether Torn has been approached to reprise his role as Chief Zed in the 'Men in Black' series. A third instalment is in the works.

Torn was arrested on January 29 after he broke into a Litchfield Bancorp branch near his home in Salisbury, according to court records.

Police say he thought he was home, taking off his hat and boots and leaving them by the door. Officers found him wandering and incoherent, and they discovered a loaded .22-calibre revolver in Torn’s pocket.

A breath test showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.203 – about 2.5 times the legal limit for drivers in Connecticut, the court records said.

Torn did not brandish the weapon when the officers confronted him, according to his attorney and court records. He has no history of violence. His permit to carry a firearm in Connecticut had expired in October 2007.

The actor, whose real name is Elmore Rual Torn, had a recurrign role on the television show '30 Rock' and won an Emmy in 1996 for his work on classic sitcom 'The Larry Sanders Show'.

Along with 'Men in Black', his recent film credits include 'The Insider' and 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story'.

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