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Originally published May 26, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Page modified May 26, 2010 at 8:37 PM

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'Drugstore Cowboy' back in jail again

James Fogle — whose life of crime and addiction became the basis for an acclaimed film, "Drugstore Cowboy" — is back in jail again.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Some old dogs really don't learn new tricks.

James Fogle — who immortalized his life of crime and addiction in a book that became the basis for an acclaimed film, "Drugstore Cowboy" — is back in jail again.

Fogle and another man, 45-year-old Shannon Benn, were arrested on Tuesday while attempting to rob a Redmond pharmacy, according to police.

"He's 73 years old and this is probably the only thing he knows," said Jim Bove, a spokesman for the Redmond Police Department.

Fogle and Benn have been booked into jail on investigation of first-degree robbery and are scheduled to appear in King County Superior Court on Thursday.

According to police, two armed men walked into the Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Redmond Way around 9 p.m. They directed one employee to turn off the store lights and lock the doors while they began tying up the other employees, police said.

The employee who was sent to the front to shut out the lights reached the door just as a customer was attempting to enter, according to Bove.

The employee managed to crack the door and ask the customer to call 911, Bove said.

At the same time, another employee triggered a silent alarm, and police, whose headquarters were around the corner, arrived and arrested the two men at gunpoint, police said.

"It's very hard to catch a robbery in progress," said Bove, "but everything that could have gone right went right."

Fogle had already spent half his life in prison when he penned the book "Drugstore Cowboy" that was based on his own history as one of a group of addicts who roamed around the Pacific Northwest, robbing pharmacies to get their fixes.

He was in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla in 1989 when Portland filmmaker Gus Van Sant took Fogle's tale and created a critically acclaimed movie starring Matt Dillon.

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When Fogle was released in 1991, he said he thought for a short time that he might be able to do something different with his life.

But less than a year later, he was back in jail for crimes related to his addictions.

"I had everything going for me," Fogle said in a 1992 interview with The Seattle Times.

"But it wasn't really different," he told The Times. "After you do a lot of time it's hard. You get out and you don't really know anybody except the people you knew before you went in. Some psychiatrist told me I'd been locked up so long I didn't have any point of reference, you know? I always went back to what I knew."

Fogle has averaged one criminal charge each year over the past decade.

After he was charged with the burglary of a pharmacy in Centralia in 1995, he reportedly told the local newspaper that he'd gone on a drug-and-alcohol binge after finding his wife dead of a drug overdose in their Seattle home.

In 2004, he made the news again when police found him asleep in a Kent drugstore he had intended to burglarize. According to Kent police, Fogle had cut a hole in the store's roof, shimmied inside with a rope and had filled paper bags with $10,000 worth of narcotics.

"He had gotten into the pharmacy and made a huge haul of drugs and was on the way out when he fell asleep," Detective Robert Kaufman told The Times in 2004.

Earlier this year, he was featured on the "Washington's Most Wanted" television show after Centralia police linked him to a break-in at a pharmacy last year in which the thieves locked themselves into the bathroom of a store adjacent to the pharmacy and sawed their way through the wall.

Police said Fogle's accomplice in that case, Marvin Flowers-Roscoe, was arrested on March 30 after his DNA was found in mucous at the crime scene.

"I figured with all the drywall dust, they were probably blowing their nose so I called the state lab and asked if they could get DNA off snot and the scientists laughed and said, 'yeah' and said 'send me the stuff' so I did," Centralia Police Department Detective Carl Buster told the television show.

Bove said Redmond police didn't initially realize who Fogle was, but that changed on Wednesday morning when other law-enforcement agencies began calling.

"They called to let us know how much crime he had been involved in throughout his life," said Bove. "They were excited that we got someone with such a prolific history."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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