'Sopranos' Actor Nabbed in Drug Sting

Thu Apr 3, 8:11 PM ET

NEW YORK - An actor who appeared as a minor character in "The Sopranos" was arrested in connection with a drug-dealing sting, city officials said Thursday.

Queens prosecutors allege that Richard Maldone, who has played mobster Albert Barese in the HBO mafia drama, offered the animal tranquilizer ketamine free to an undercover police officer. Such an offer is treated as a sale under New York law.

He pleaded innocent Thursday to a charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance and was released on $5,000 bail.

"The charge against Mr. Maldone is about as fictitious as the character that he plays on `The Sopranos,'" said his attorney, Melvyn Roth.

The actor, who served prison time for an assault conviction in the 1990s, could face a maximum 7 1/2 to 15 years if convicted, prosecutors said.

An HBO spokeswoman declined to comment on the arrest. Maldone also had a small part in last year's "Analyze That," with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.

Maldone was one of 45 people arrested. Prosecutors claim that the suspects sold marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and ketamine. They allegedly spent the profits in expensive restaurants, tanning salons and nightclubs in New York City and the Hamptons.