Another Victim Claims a Run-in With A.J. Soprano and Friends
Robert Iler, who plays Tony Soprano’s troubled teenage son, has been spotted again-and not on HBO. An Upper East Side mother visited the 19th Precinct on July 9 with her 15-year-old son in tow and complained that the 16-year-old actor was on the scene in Carl Schurz Park when her boy was mugged on May 21.
Mr. Iler and a couple of buddies, TV fans will recall, were arrested in the wee hours of July 4 and charged with robbing two other teenagers of $40. The Sopranos star contends that he’d left the scene before the crime occurred.
In the Carl Schurz Park incident, the victim, a 15-year-old East 86th Street resident, says that he and a couple of friends recognized Robert Iler as the actor who plays Anthony Soprano Jr. as he stood among a group of boys in the park at 88th Street and East End Avenue. The complainant said that he talked to Mr. Iler and his friends. However, as he walked away, he found himself quickly surrounded by a large number of kids (his friends had already walked on ahead).
The teenager apparently didn’t identify Mr. Iler as being among those who surrounded him. But he told police that one of the youths grabbed him from behind, placed his hand inside his jacket as if wielding a gun and stated, “Give me your money or I’ll break your jaw.”
The victim says he removed his wallet and gave the bandits $48. The first perpetrator then allegedly punched him in the face, while a couple of the robber’s colleagues punched him about the head and prevented him from leaving.
The complainant was interviewed by the 19th Precinct detective squad. But a police official said that the cops were viewing the robbery allegation with caution (though he didn’t put it quite that diplomatically) because the complaint was filed so long after the incident-and so soon after Mr. Iler was arrested on July 4 and his perp-walk picture splashed across the front pages of the city’s tabloids.
“He saw the actor on TV and called the next day,” a police source said.
Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney, said the case had not yet reached the D.A.’s office-not that it necessarily will. “We don’t comment on people who make complaints. We wait until the investigation is completed,” she explained. “The only thing that [Iler] has been charged with is that incident from July 4.”
The attorney for Mr. Iler, Michael Bachner, denied that his client had anything to do with the alleged robbery. “Iler certainly wasn’t involved in that incident, and unfortunately, when you are someone of celebrity, it’s to be expected that people will come out of the woodwork in order to benefit from other people’s situations.”
Time to Retire
The greatest deterrent to crime, experts will tell you, isn’t community policing or the NYPD’s celebrated COMSTAT conferences (in which precinct commanders are raked over the coals by the department brass), but encroaching age. The older people get, the less likely they are to commit crimes, the mind and body apparently unwilling to suffer the physical and psychological indignities a life of crime exacts on its practitioners.
However, there’s always the exception to the rule, and that fellow was arrested on July 13 after trying to pick the pocket of a much younger man on the M2 bus. The perpetrator, who boarded the bus at 65th Street and Fifth Avenue at 4:25 p.m., was born during the Coolidge Presidency-more precisely, on Sept. 21, 1928. That makes him 72 years old, and one of the most senior of citizens ever to grace the 19th Precinct’s holding cell.
The victim told police that he was sitting on the bus when the perp-a Broadway resident who was seated to his left-placed his jacket over his right arm and then, using the cover it provided, reached across his body with his left arm and into his fellow passenger’s left front pocket.
But the pickpocket’s skills were showing signs of age, and his intended victim felt his hand inside the pocket. The complainant, a mere sprig of 37, flagged down a couple of cops, who briefly canvassed the area, spotted the septuagenarian and arrested him for grand larceny.
If there was any justice in this world (and who knows, there may yet turn out to be), crooks would get slapped with extra jail time for preying on the handicapped. Prime candidates would be the two villains who acted out on July 7.
The victim, a 71-year-old blind woman, told police that she was leaving her First Avenue apartment building at 2 p.m. when two males approached her and plucked her purse from her hands. One of them handed the purse to his co-worker, who removed $120 and then returned the bag to her.
Unfortunately, the woman’s handicap conspired against her in more ways than one: The crime was so effortless that the cops were forced to classify it as a petty larceny rather than a robbery. “No force was used at all,” explained a police officer. “It was too easy. She was blind.”