March 8, 1966“I realize my mistake,” recording star Johnny Cash told U.S. District Judge D.W. Suttle Tuesday before receiving a$1,000 fine and a 30-day suspended sentence for possession of illegal drugs a misdemeanor charge that he pleaded guilty to Dec. 28.
Just off a three week tour in Ohio and Michigan, Cash appeared in federal court with his attorney, recording agent and minister.
Cash, who earned a good conduct medal while serving with the Air Force, said he regretted his “mistake” in bringing several hundred pep and tranquilizer pills into the U.S. from Juarez last October. He was apprehended by federal agents at International Airport with the illegal drugs in his luggage.
“It was bad, very bad, misconduct on my part,” Cash said.
He told the court he had just finished a hard tour of one-night stands and went to Juarez to relax.
“I had several beers. I guess I was so tired I lost my faculties. I saw the customs agent staked out on the corner, but I just didn’t seem to care,” he said. He previously told federal agents he had bought the pills on a Juarez main street.
Judge Suttle said he was not going to lecture the defendant but pointed out that Cash held a prominent image before the youth of this nation and that therefore his misdemeanor was even more serious.
Later Cash sat down to a huge breakfast of four minute steaks, scrambled eggs and a mountain of buttered toast. He drank several cups of coffee and appeared relaxed and eager to talk. He delayed calling his wife and parents in California until he had composed himself.
Cash, a top recording artist with Columbia Records since 1958, sat down to eat with his attorney, Woodrow W. Bean; Don Law, Columbia records recording agent; Johnny Thompson, a friend, and the Rev. Floyd Bressett, pastor of the Avenue Community Church of Ventura, Calif., that Cash recently joined.
Cash said several other recording stars, including Gene Autry and Tex Ritter, had sent letters to Judge Suttle attesting to his good character.
He said he has promised his wife and family that he will never again take either a pep pill or tranquilizer and that he knows God will help him.
“The only way I’ll ever take another pill is for someone to force it down my throat when I’m unconscious,” Cash said earnestly.