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Like a reluctantly implemented early bird special at Vesuvio, today you get two-for-one Sopranos cast member arrests. Louis Gross, the musclebound lunk who joined the series this season as Tony's bodyguard, was arrested yesterday for burglary—now downgraded to "criminal mischief"—and has also been accused in a separate incident of shoplifting and injuring the store manager in the process:

Actor Louis Gross was arrested Sunday on charges he broke into a Queens home on April 18.

The 23-year-old ex-fitness model also is accused of roughing up a Manhattan merchant in February.

"I don't know nothing. I'm innocent. I'm always innocent," Gross said as he was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last night. [...]

"Is he a bad guy? No," said lawyer Samuel Bernstein.

"As an actor, he plays up to the camera. But people have to differentiate between his job persona and his real-life persona. He seems like a nice guy, a gentleman." [...]

Gross was arrested for burglary, but prosecutors downgraded the charges to criminal mischief. In the Manhattan case, Gross was stopped Feb. 3 as he allegedly set off an alarm while leaving a trendy SoHo clothing store, Michael K., with a bagful of clothes.

"He ran out, he punched me," said store manager Fane Mamadou, who suffered a sprained wrist. "He was very big and very strong."

We're wondering what jury could possibly be swayed by Bernstein's unconvincing rhetoric differentiating Gross' "job persona and his real-life persona." He'll need a far more aggressive defense if he plans on pulling that argument off: Perhaps a courtroom demonstration in which a Tony lookalike kicks the ragu out of the defendant after falsely accusing him of leaving the fridge door open, which will compellingly illustrate how the actor's stiff, wooden acting on the series is nothing at all like the very real terror in his eyes as a "real world" fist slams into his face .

  • 'Sopranos' tough guy in bad-boy rap [NY Daily News]