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'Dell Dude' released after marijuana arrest

Deal would clear his record after year of good behavior

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Benjamin Curtis walks out of the Manhattan Criminal Court after being arraigned Monday.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Benjamin Curtis, better known as the "Dell Dude" from the computer company's television commercials, was released from jail Monday after being arrested on Manhattan's Lower East Side on suspicion of trying to buy marijuana.

Curtis was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday after being held in custody overnight. He was released and the case was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, meaning it will be dismissed and Curtis' record expunged if he stays out of trouble for the next year, said a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Curtis was arrested at 11:30 p.m. Sunday and charged with criminal possession of marijuana when an officer saw him making the purchase from Queens resident Omar Mendez, a police spokesman said.

Police said Curtis was buying "a small bag" and was not being charged with intent to distribute. Mendez, 19, faces charges of drug sale and possession.

"At no time was there ever any intent to distribute," Curtis' attorney, James Moschella, told CNN. "The case is over."

Officers made the arrest as part of Operation Condor, a special anti-narcotics detail.

Curtis' agent, Bonnie Schumofsky, refused to comment on the arrest.

Curtis, 22, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is enrolled at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, according to Dell's Web site.

He gained national recognition as "Steven," a hip teenager who convinces his parents, his friends' parents and random people at the mall to buy computers from Dell.

The ad campaign was hugely successful for Dell Computer Corp. It featured Curtis' catchphrase, "Dude, you're getting a Dell!" Fan Web sites and "Dell Dude" memorabilia appeared soon after the launch of the campaign in the fall of 2000.

Dell has recently moved away from the "Steven" campaign, though Curtis' relationship with Dell is "still in place" and he is featured in that role in other Dell commercials, according to Dell spokesman Venancio Figueroa.

Figueroa said it was "premature" to comment on Curtis' arrest or the future of Dell's relationship with the actor, but said the Steven campaign was "absolutely a success that resonated with the younger folks."

Consumer sales bring in about $4.8 billion a year for Dell, or 15 percent of the company's $32 billion in annual revenue.


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