Young Actor's Robbery Trial Delayed
The trial of "The Sopranos" actor Robert Iler, who faces robbery and marijuana-possession charges, was supposed to begin in New York on Monday but has been postponed until May 6, reports Court TV's Web site. Iler, 17, who plays the troubled adolescent Tony Jr. on the HBO mob hit, and two others -- Michael Cournede, 19, and Alban Selimaj, 16 -- pleaded innocent at their arraignment last August to charges related to an incident in which two teens were allegedly shaken down for $40 on Manhattan's Upper East Side over the July 4 weekend. All three have been charged with second-degree robbery; Cournede was also charged with possession of a box cutter in public. The robbery charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars; the pot-possession charge, a fine of $100, Reuters reported. Besides setting the May court date, Manhattan Superior Court judge Bonnie Wittner also decided that she would try Iler, whose legal team has already declined a plea-bargain offered by prosecutors, and Selimaj separately from Cournede. According to the criminal complaint filed by police, Iler and the two others threatened the victims by saying, "Give us your money. Do you wanna die?" Iler said in a statement released after the incident that he was "terribly embarrassed" by the incident. Last October, James Gandolfini, who plays Iler's father on "The Sopranos," wrote a letter to Judge Wittner on the youngster's behalf, which Court TV has posted on its Web site. In it, Gandolfini, 40, writes that if the press accounts of Iler's behavior in the case are true, then it is nothing more than "a momentary lapse in judgment" by a young man who otherwise repeatedly demonstrates "responsibility, not only to himself, but also to his family, his professional colleagues and to his community." (HBO, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.)
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