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    Tatum O'Neal Busted for Crack

    Tatum O'Neal Shawn Ehlers/WireImage.com

    Apparently, Tatum O'Neal just can't shake those demons.

    The former child star, whose autobiography, A Paper Life, related tales of illicit drug use and her struggles with heroin addiction, was let out of jail today, hours after being arrested outside her New York City home for allegedly purchasing crack cocaine. (View police docs.)

    Her lawyer, Robert Marinelli, declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

    However, the 44-year-old O'Neal did appear fatigued from her night in the clink as she was arraigined before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Felicia Mennin on a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance. She was released without bail.

    Because it's a misdemeanor, prosecutors offered a deal in which she could have pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and entered a two-day drug treatment program, but Marinelli scotched it.

    A hearing is scheduled or July 28.

    Per NYPD spokesman Mike Wysokowski, the actress was taken into custody around 7:30 p.m. Sunday in what was described as a routine drug sweep after cops witnessed her giving money to a street dealer three blocks from her East Broadway apartment on the Lower East Side.

    Officers found two yellow ziplock bags on her—one with crack and the other filled with regular cocaine—along with an unused crack pipe, said Wysokowski.

    Sources told the New York Daily News that O'Neal originally told detectives that she was just "doing research for a part," but once they found the narcotics and paraphernalia, she burst into tears and pleaded with them to cut her a break.

    "I've been clean for a long time. Today was the first time I was relapsing, but you guys saved me! Can you let me go?" O'Neal was quoted as saying.

    She was taken to Manhattan Central Booking and charged with the misdemeanor. The suspected dealer, 33-year-old homeless man Allen Garcia, was also arrested and charged with felony sale of a controlled substance.

    A field test subsequently performed on the bags' contents tested positive for cocaine.

    O'Neal is best known for becoming the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award when she snagged a Best Supporting Actress trophy for playing a Depression-era child grifter opposite dad Ryan O'Neal in 1973's Paper Moon, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

    Other major roles included 1976's The Bad News Bears, 1978's International Velvet and 1980's Little Darlings, but her career was derailed by physical and emotional abuse, depression and drug addiction.

    "It's astonishing how deeply my entire family—my morphine- and Percodan-dependent grandmothers; my father with his pot and pills; my alcoholic, chain-smoking, speed-freak mother...has gotten mired in drugs. It was as if I'd fulfilled some dark destiny by growing addicted," she wrote in her best-selling memoir about her childhood.

    In the '80s, O'Neal got sober and took a hiatus from acting. She married tennis great John McEnroe in 1986. The couple divorced in 1992 after having three children, and she resumed using again.

    She returned to the big screen in the mid-'90s with a small part in Basquiat. Recent credits include guest stints on TV's Sex and the City, 8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and a recurring role on F/X's Rescue Me. She also competed in the second season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars.

    Contacted by E! News following O'Neal's arrest, her DWTS partner, pro Nick Kosovich, said, "I was with her during the daytime [at rehearsals], and the only thing I do recall her taking was Advil, once, for some knee pain."

    Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction medicine specialist who hosts the popular radio show Loveline and VH1's Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, called O'Neal's arrest "a blessing."

    "Relapse is a hallmark of addiction. It’s part of the disease, you will have periods of use, especially with her history of childhood trauma," he told E! News. "She’s had long periods of solid sustained sobriety and I’m sure she will again."

    —Additional reporting by Matthew Donnelly and Ken Baker

    (Originally published June 2, 2008 at 5:40 a.m. PT.)

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