Tatum Busted by the Light of the Paper Moon

Her memoir said using drugs was in her DNA, but that she had beaten the beast. Now, the animal has bitten Tatum O’Neal once again.

The 44-year-old actress, ex-wife of tennis star John McEnroe and mother of three was busted June 1 by New York City cops, after she was seen handing money to a known drug dealer.

The arrest, part of what officers called a routine street sweep, occurred about 7:30 p.m. near her East Broadway apartment. After the transaction, officers found one bag of crack cocaine, one of regular coke and a clean crack pipe. Guess the party hadn’t started yet.

The New York Daily News said Tatum initially told cops she was doing research for a movie role, then crumbled under the pressure.

“I’ve been clean for a long time,” she reportedly said. “Today was the first time I was relapsing, but you guys saved me! Can you let me go?”

She was charged with a misdemeanor—seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance—and released. The alleged seller, Allen Garcia, was also taken in for felony sale of a controlled substance.

O’Neal’s arrest comes on the heels of her memoir, A Paper Life, in which she described herself as a child of both privilege and dysfunction. She cited early and rampant drug use by both of her parents, as well as abuse, orgies and a memorable makeout session with Michael Jackson.

During her 2006 stint on Dancing with the Stars, O’Neal, the youngest person ever to win an Oscar, felt together enough to dole out advice for Britney Spears, who also had just lost custody of her kids. “I went through my problems, too,” she told Entertainment Tonight, “and I relate to her…I had to realize that I had to take my own responsibility for everything.”

Looks like Tatum’s had a change of heart.