October 8, 2010, - 6:25 pm

1/2 of CHiPs Charged: Say It Ain’t So, “Officer Jon”

By Debbie Schlussel

As a kid growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, I used to watch “CHiPs,” about two motorcycle-riding cops in the California Highway Patrol, starring Erik Estrada as Officer Francis Llewellyn “Ponch” Poncherello and Larry Wilcox as Office Jonathan “Jon” Baker. “Ponch & Jon” in their aviator sunglasses were must see TV for my babysitter, and she would let us stay up and watch. I especially liked the show’s theme song, which has stood the test of time, even if the corny show and plots haven’t. I mean–come on–a cop show, during which (the late) Laura Branigan breaks out in song, singing “Gloria” on the streets?

CHiPs was originally written as Wilcox’s vehicle, and he was supposed to be the main star, not Estrada. But all of the girls liked the cheesy Estrada, and he became the major player of the show. Still, I always thought the all-American Wilcox was the better looking of the two and grew better looking as he got older. Even at age 63, he has aged well and still looks pretty good. Sadly, the aging’s likely to¬† speed up a little, as yesterday, the feds filed civil and criminal charges against him in Federal Court in Florida. Read the federal complaint here. And here’s a brief summary of the accusations, which, according to the complaint, include Wilcox allegedly agreeing to kickbacks in an FBI undercover sting operation:

Federal authorities filed civil and criminal charges against a group of penny-stock promoters accused of manipulating the volume and price of microcap stocks in a series of alleged kickback schemes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged more than a dozen people, including Larry Wilcox, perhaps best known as Officer Jonathan “Jon” Baker on the television show “CHiPs,” which ran from 1977-1983.

Ten of the individuals, including Mr. Wilcox, face separate criminal charges, which were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Those criminal charges include conspiracy, securities fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. . . .

A lawyer representing Mr. Wilcox wasn’t available to comment.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Florida, the plots generally involved the payment of kickbacks to purported pension-fund managers or stockbrokers, who were either undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents or cooperating witnesses. . . .

The SEC said the purported fund managers and stockbrokers would use their clients’ accounts to purchase the publicly traded stock of microcap issuers controlled or promoted by the individuals or companies charged in the alleged scheme.

“These penny-stock promoters paid illicit kickbacks to people who they thought would help them profit at the expense of unsuspecting investors by manipulating the price of their stock or fraudulently selling their shares,” said Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami office.

The SEC alleges Mr. Wilcox, who lives in West Hills, Calif., conducted interrelated kickback schemes with two other penny-stock company executives. Mr. Wilcox and the other two men are accused of attempting to conceal the kickbacks by entering into a consulting agreement with a phony company created to receive the kickbacks. Mr. Wilcox’s company is the UC Hub Group.

Say it ain’t so, Officer Baker.

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15 Responses

I forgot about Laura Branigan’s performance on Chips but remember her 1985 appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Burt Reynolds was also a guest that night. She performed “Forever Young”, which is the way I wlll always remember her.

Bonzer Wolf on October 9, 2010 at 12:39 am

I seem to recall that, besides appearing on so-called “reality” shows, Mr. Estrada a.k.a. “Officer Ponch” in recent years was doing some real estate infomercials.

ConcernedPatriot on October 9, 2010 at 1:15 am

I’ve seen Estrada on an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger” playing a bad guy, Robert Pine in different roles in movies and TV, and hardly least Michael Dorn’s stint on “Star Trek”. Of all the actors from that show, that’s all I’d seen of them, till now……… sad news indeed for Wilcox.

David B on October 9, 2010 at 1:20 am

it was a good show.

united states of sharia on October 9, 2010 at 4:14 am

Sadly, let the ChiPs fall where they may…

(sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Paul on October 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

Wilcox was my favorite, and I had a bit of a crush on him in junior high.

Brigid on October 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm

This is a phenomenon that has always fascinated me. When you have a movie or TV program which features two leads with equal billing, and one actor goes on to become a big star and the other continues to toil in obscurity after the movie and/or TV program has had it’s run. The sheer arbitrarity of it will always puzzle me. Here are some more obvious examples of “Big Star – Not A Big Star” for whatever reasons:

Tom Hanks – Peter Scolari
Harrison Ford – Mark Hamill
Keanu Reeves – Alex Winter
Sarah Jessica Parker – Amy Linker
Drew Barrymore – Henry Thomas
Jodie Foster – Brandon Cruz*

*Probably the weirdest one of all, as he was really the lead and she was only a semi-regular as his little girlfriend:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWomoLg1j3Y&p

Irving on October 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

The camera work on that show, especially of the scenes
showing the two of them riding their motorcycles, was
absolutely phenomenal.

I_AM_ME on October 10, 2010 at 12:41 am

One more reason I dig your blog, we have the same childhood experiences. Chips was a fun show.

CaliforniaScreaming on October 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

Debbie, it’s good to see you back on facebook.Just one thing however…you like that opening theme music??? Ugh… it’s so cheesy 70′s!

F: Sometimes ’70s cheese is underrated. I like the sounds used in it. You can’t hear them as well b/c this isn’t a stereo or HD version. They don’t make theme songs like they used to. In fact, most shows don’t even have them. And this one is memorable and stands out for me. Other show theme songs I liked: Dallas, Hill Street Blues, Magnum P.I., Get Smart. DS

Frummentsh on October 10, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Wanna talk 70s cheese, then the best is the Six Million Dollar Man theme. Another cheesy theme was the In Search Of show and the Incredible Hulk.

CaliforniaScreaming on October 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Hey, its bad but at least he wasn’t arrested for being a rapist or pedophile!

Suzanne Weinstein on October 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Larry, being a criminal defendant AND then being a civil defendant and being forced to be grilled by suits in week-long depositions and court appearances and THEN serve prison time and THEN parole reporting to law officers is no way to spend your sunset years …

Robo on June 27, 2011 at 12:55 am

People pay way too much attention to the part they play rather than the person they are.

Harry Y. on August 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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