The occasional actor and DJ had faced 10 years in prison for pleading guilty to selling bulk quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine at Manhattan's upscale Hotel Gansevoort in 2009. Berman said he wasn't convinced that Cameron Douglas would stay away from drugs when he pleaded guilty in January, and called the five-year prison sentence the 31-year-old's "last chance to make it."
In a bid to keep his son from a long stint in jail, 65-year-old "Wall Street" actor Michael Douglas hand-wrote an impassioned, five-page letter to Berman, which was made public Monday. In his letter, Michael Douglas referred to his family's history of drug abuse.
"Dear Judge Berman," he wrote, "I don't want to burden you with a litany of my son, Cameron's rehab history, beginning at 13. He's an adult and responsible for his own life. We do know, however, that genes, family, and peer pressure are all a strong influence on a substance abuser.
"For the past eight months, I have cherished my two hr. a week in person conversation with Cameron at the MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Center]. He's sober!," he continued. "I get to witness the wonderful young man he can be. He maintains his spirit, blames no one but himself, and recognizes his criminal activity began with his heroin use."
Michael Douglas suggested that his family's fame -- he's won an Oscar; his father is the veteran actor and "Spartacus" star Kirk Douglas -- could be to blame for his son's dependence on drugs.
"I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father," he wrote. "I'm not sure I can comprehend it with two generations to deal with."
On top of that, he cited Cameron Douglas' upbringing as a source of problems.
"Cameron grew up a single child in a bad marriage," Michael Douglas wrote.
Kirk Douglas, and Michael Douglas' actress wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, also submitted letters to the judge. Zeta-Jones called Cameron a "caring, considerate, worthy human being" despite his heroin addiction but conceded that he ought to make amends for his crime, writing that she hopes he ends up in a facility that "will help rehabilitate him."
In his letter, Kirk Douglas, 93, asked the judge to spare his grandson from years in prison, saying he hopes to see him rebound from his troubles "before I die.
"I'm convinced Cameron could be a fine actor," Kirk Douglas wrote. "I hope I can see that happen before I die. I love Cameron."
Still, Berman was not that impressed with the letters he received from Cameron's friends and family, reports online entertainment columnist Roger Friedman. Mostly the letters -- from a range of others outside his immediate circle, including a 1st grade teacher -- Berman observed, stressed that Cameron had had a tough childhood and shouldn't be made an example.
The judge said, "We must get over the theme that Cameron Douglas is a victim." The judge said the letters "paid lip service," were "misguided."
Cameron Douglas' life has been clouded by addiction and legal woes. In 2007, Michael Douglas' only child from his 22-year marriage to Diandra Douglas was arrested in California on cocaine possession charges. Cameron pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
In 2009, Cameron Douglas was evicted from his $4,200 a month home after falling behind on his rent. His landlord told Star magazine that he left behind a mess of drug paraphernalia.
Cameron Douglas' drug problems, while sad, are not surprising, considering his family's history of drug abuse.
In 1992, Michael Douglas went to rehab for alcoholism. In 2004, his half-brother, Eric Douglas, died of a drug and alcohol overdose at the age of 46.