'Goodfellas' mobster blames alcohol for arrest

ST. LOUIS - December 15, 2009

Police hauled 66-year-old Henry Hill of Topanga, Calif., away in handcuffs Sunday after the dustup in a Drury Inn lobby in Fairview Heights, Ill., while he was in the St. Louis area for a three-day showing of his artwork and to sign autographs at a nearby Larry Flynt strip club.

Free on bond on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Hill told The Associated Press on Tuesday he doesn't remember much about the weekend flare-up at the Drury.

"Ever drink too much? Well, that's what happened," Hill said by telephone from his room at a different Fairview Heights hotel. "I was in the hotel lobby and I guess I caused a little commotion."

Just don't ask him what the ruckus was about. Getting arrested still was foggy to him.

"I don't remember too much. It's coming back a little bit, but I drank just one too many," he shrugged. "I woke up a few hours later in a jail cell."

Still, Hill wasn't losing much sleep about the latest legal trouble.

"Public intoxication? It's a misdemeanor. It's not a big deal," he said. "I didn't fight with nobody."

Fairview Heights police Sgt. Steve Evans said he had no immediate details about Hill's arrest, downplaying it as "news simply because of who's involved, but other than that it was a pretty routine arrest."

The FBI leveraged a drug trafficking bust to get Hill to testify about New York mob murders and crime rings in 1980. He was initially in the federal witness protection program but was removed in the 1990s because of drug arrests.

Immortalized by actor Ray Liotta in "Goodfellas," Hill pleaded guilty last March in San Bernardino, Calif., to two misdemeanor counts of public intoxication a week after arrest warrants were issued when he failed to appear in court. He was sentenced to two years of probation, credit for four days served in jail and a $220 fine.

Hill was twice cited in 2008 for public drunkenness when he was in San Bernardino for alcohol counseling.

On Tuesday, Hill said boozing has demonized him for years despite substance-abuse classes he still regularly attends, sometimes three times a week.

"I've been on every drug humanly possible, and I can't get a handle on alcohol," he said. "I'll go two, two and a half years (sober), and I don't know what triggers me" to start drinking again.

"Maybe it's inherited. But I'm the only one in my family that has this," Hill added.

Copyright © 2024 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.