'Sopranos' son, 16, charged over robbery

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The Independent US

Robert Iler, the 16-year-old actor who plays the son of the Mafia boss Tony Soprano, has been arrested on robbery and drug charges.

The teenager, who stars in the television series The Sopranos, was arrested in New York early yesterday. Three other teenagers were also arrested after the group allegedly robbed two boys of $40 (£28) in Manhattan's wealthy Upper East Side.

The victims, one of whom told police he was visiting from Brazil, flagged down a police vehicle and drove around the area until they identified Iler and the other suspects, who were in a park.

Police said all four were held on a robbery charge. Iler was also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, though sources said the teenager told police he had played no part in the robbery.

The 16-year-old portrays Anthony Soprano Jnr in the hit show. He started his showbusiness career at the age of six when he appeared in an advertisement for Pizza Hut. The teenager lives in New York where he attends a local school.

Yesterday's incident was not the first time a member of the cast has had a brush with real-life New York crime. Edie Falco, who plays Iler's mother, has revealed that she is related to a member of the Mafia. Falco, who plays Tony Soprano's wife Carmela, told an interviewer in the US: "We don't speak of him much because the less I know the better. Occasionally references were made to him. If there was a family problem, people would say, 'Is this something we should tell Junior about?'"

Another Sopranos character, Tony Sirico, who plays the psychopathic Paulie Walnuts, has a record. Court records from 1971, reveal he was described by a judge as a "danger to society". He was sentenced to four years for gun possession and drug dealing, though only served 20 months.

In the past season of The Sopranos, shown in the US on HBO, Iler's pot-smoking character and some friends vandalised a swimming pool and destroyed an office at their Catholic school. "AJ's" status as a football star kept him from getting kicked out over that incident. But in the season's final episode, AJ and another friend were finally expelled when they were caught cheating during a geometry test.