LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Officials on Wednesday charged actor Dennis Farina with three counts of carrying a loaded weapon stemming from his May arrest when the former cop was stopped by airport security on his way to board a plane.
The actor, perhaps best known for playing New York Police Detective Joe Fontana on television crime series "Law & Order," faces up to 2 1/2 years in jail and $3,000 in fines if convicted on all three misdemeanor counts, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's office said.
Late in May, the Los Angeles County District Attorney decided against filing felony charges, which would have carried stiffer penalties, and referred the case to the city attorney.
City attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan said the office "felt these (misdemeanor) charges were appropriate."
Farina, 64, faces one count of carrying a weapon into a secured area, which carries a sentence of as much as six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
He also faces a second count of possession of a concealed weapon and a third count of possession of a loaded weapon in a public place. Each of those charges carries a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine, Mateljan said.
Farina is due to be arraigned on Thursday, but he does not have to appear in court.
The actor was a policeman in Chicago for nearly 20 years before building a Hollywood career mostly playing detectives. He has starred in movies like "Get Shorty" and "Sidewalks of New York."
On May 11, Farina was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after he tried to get by security guards with the .22 caliber, semi-automatic pistol in his briefcase.
At the time, he told police he brought the gun with him on a drive from Arizona to Los Angeles and forgot he had it. He was scheduled to take a flight home to Chicago.
Police said he was later apologetic and cooperative, and one day after his arrest the actor issued a statement saying, "It is my own stupidity to find myself in this embarrassing situation."
Editing by Dan Whitcomb