Actor who portrays son of mob boss in real trouble after arrest

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2001

NEW YORK -- This time, Robert Iler is in real trouble.

Iler, who plays the pot-smoking, trouble-prone teen son of television mob boss Tony Soprano, was arrested early Wednesday on robbery and drug possession charges.

Iler, 16, of Manhattan, was picked up by police with three other youths for allegedly robbing two teens of about $40 just after midnight on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Iler and the others were arrested when the 16-year-old victims flagged down a police cruiser, then drove around until they spotted the suspects in nearby John Jay Park, police said. One of the victims told police he was visiting from Brazil.

All four suspects were held on the robbery charge. Iler also was charged with marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.

His attorney, Steven Mintz, said he had not seen any court papers concerning Iler's arrest as of mid-afternoon.

''Robert denies the allegations, and we are cooperating,'' Mintz said while awaiting the arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. ''I have known Robert for a couple of years -- he's a wonderful kid.''

Iler's mother, grandfather, and other relatives were at the courthouse to lend their support, Mintz added.

Iler plays A.J. Soprano, the lone son of the Mafia boss portrayed by James Gandolfini on the hit HBO show ''The Sopranos.''

Over the show's three-year run, Iler's character has repeatedly found trouble: smoking pot in the family garage, vandalizing his high school and getting expelled for cheating on a test.

Iler, handcuffed and with a stoic expression on his face, was taken to central booking in a police van.

Iler's manager, Jeff Mitchell, did not return telephone messages left at his Manhattan office.

Iler started his show business career at age 6, when Mitchell saw him walking down a street with his father. He was hired to appear in a Pizza Hut commercial. He appeared in his first film -- ''The Tic Code'' -- when he was 10, and several more commercials. He landed the role of A.J. Soprano in 1999.

Also arrested on the robbery charge were Michael Cournede, 19, of Queens; Alban Selimaj, 16, of Manhattan; and a 15-year-old boy whose name was not released. Cournede, who allegedly had a box cutter, also was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

Cournede and Selimaj were transported to central booking with Iler. Police said the 15-year-old was released into the custody of his parents. None of the four teens had a criminal record, police said.

According to the official Web site for ''The Sopranos,'' Iler's favorite sport is football, and he loves to hang out with his friends.

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On the Net: http://www.hbo.com/sopranos/



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