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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Sopranos actor's regret over arrest
Robert Iler being escorted from the police station following his arrest
Robert Iler is escorted from the police station
Teenage actor Robert Iler has said he is "deeply sorry" for the alleged events which led to his arrest for robbery and possession of marijuana.

Iler, who plays the son of Tony Soprano in the popular HBO television series The Sopranos, said that he was innocent in a prepared statement.


I feel terribly embarrassed. I never ever would or did rob anyone in my life

Robert Iler

" I know that the events of the past two days have been extremely difficult for my family and friends and for that I am sorry," Iler's statement said, via spokesman Dan Klores.

The 16-year-old actor and three friends are accused of having robbed two teenage Brazilians outside a delicatessen in the Upper East Side of New York.

The victims, Tiago Cordiero and Robert Weiss, then alerted a nearby police vehicle. They drove around the area, and identified the teenagers - Iler, 16, Michael Cournede, 19, Alban Selimaj, 16, and a 15-year-old boy who remains unnamed.

Threatened

New York police said that Cournede, the eldest of the four, approached the victims and ordered them to hand over their money.

According to the criminal complaint, the other three suspects allegedly threatened the victims, saying: "Give us your money. Do you wanna die? Do you wanna die?"

The four teenagers have attended a preliminary hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Robert Iler leaves Manhattan Criminal Court
Robert Iler leaves Manhattan Criminal Court
Iler, charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and one count of possession of marijuana, pleaded not guilty, and was released on bail of $2,500 (1,782).

Michael Cournede and Alban Selimaj also pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery.

Cournede was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon, having been carrying a box cutter when he was arrested.

Iler's next court appearance is on 9 July, where he will learn whether he has been indicted to face trial by a grand jury.

'A good kid'

Iler's lawyer, Steven Mintz, said: "Robert Iler is a good kid. He just plays a character. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.".


Robert is a really great kid. I'd be proud to have him as my son

David Chase, Creator and Executive Producer of The Sopranos
The Sopranos creator David Chase released a statement which said: "Robert is a really great kid. I'd be proud to have him as my son."

"As it is, he's a friend and a colleague. If he says he didn't rob anybody, then he didn't. It's as simple as that for me," Chase said.

HBO, producers of the critically acclaimed show, seemed confident that Iler would be shown leniency by the grand jury.

HBO said "We look forward to Robert joining us when The Sopranos resumes production in the fall," in a statement on Thursday.

See also:

06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Sopranos sued by Italian group
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Sopranos star digitally recreated
03 Nov 00 | Entertainment
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05 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Sopranos actor arrested
24 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Crowds mob Sopranos auditions
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