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Earlier this year, Ralph Anwan Glover landed a role as a drug dealer on HBO’s acclaimed crime drama “The Wire.” Whether he keeps his acting job, however, may depend entirely on a D.C. judge. Glover, who plays drug enforcer Slim Charles, pleaded guilty this month in D.C. Superior Court to felony gun possession for an incident that occurred nearly two years ago. He’ll be sentenced by Judge Maurice Ross on Dec. 10. Praised by colleagues as a natural actor with a professional attitude, the 31-year-old Glover started a serious acting career after his arrest on the gun charge. He took acting classes and saw his part on “The Wire” grow from glorified extra to key supporting player. “I’m happy to have him. He’s done beautiful work,” says David Simon, executive producer and creator of “The Wire.” “Every day he works for me, he’s doing an honest job.” But Glover’s past on the D.C. streets continues to haunt him. Since 1991, Glover, who goes by the street nickname Genghis, has been arrested by D.C. police eight times for a variety of offenses, including felony cocaine distribution, simple assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and other weapons charges. Most of those charges were later dismissed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Glover has two other convictions on his adult record. One is for attempted cocaine distribution when he was 19. In 2001, Glover pleaded guilty to two counts of gun possession and was given probation. The current case stems from a December 2002 traffic stop. According to court records, D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Scott Huther pulled over a black sports utility vehicle being driven by Glover for allegedly having an illegal tint on its windows. Huther found that Glover was driving on a suspended license and placed him under arrest. The officer then searched the vehicle, finding a loaded Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun under the driver’s side dashboard. A bag of marijuana was found under the car’s center console, according to court records. Glover was charged with felony gun and ammunition possession, marijuana possession, and driving on a suspended license. The license and drug charges were not prosecuted, according to court records. Glover declined comment through his criminal defense lawyer, Frances D’Antuono. REALITY SHOW Gritty realism — and cast-member rap sheets — are two hallmarks of “The Wire.” Simon notes that at least three other actors on the show are currently serving — or have served — time in prison. One of them is former Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward Norris, who played a homicide detective on the first season of “The Wire.” Norris pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal corruption and tax charges. He currently is serving six months in prison. Another is Melvin Williams, who plays a church deacon. Williams, who during the 1970s was one of Baltimore’s top heroin dealers, has been in and out of prison for much of his adult life. “Since we are telling a tough urban tale rooted in a lot of reality, we tend to take a lot of local people — some whose past experience adds authenticity,” says Simon, adding that he will put a character on hiatus if an actor gets locked up. “My feeling is when I go to an audition and somebody is the best actor, has the best read, is professional, shows up, is courteous to the crew, is responsible, I’m happy to give them the job.” As for Glover, Simon says he’s been “an exceptional addition to the cast” and appears nothing like the character he plays. Brushes with fame and violence were a part of Glover’s life long before “The Wire.” For more than 20 years, Glover has fronted one of D.C.’s hottest go-go bands, the Backyard Band. Within D.C.’s prosperous go-go scene — a funk music style developed in the District during the 1970s — Glover is known as Big G or Ghetto Prince. His band has released five albums and tours regularly in the D.C. area and up and down the East Coast. Glover also hosts a radio program on D.C.’s WPGC 95.5 FM. Glover’s noteriety in go-go landed him a prominent role in “Divided City,” an independent film exploring the end of D.C.’s drug turf wars of the 1990s. In the movie, Glover played a go-go musician/crack cocaine dealer named “Peanut.” Glover, who grew up in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Northwest Washington, has been shot at least twice. While the Backyard Band was performing at a club in Langley Park in 1997, a man opened fire, hitting Glover in the groin and the elbow. The shootings have become legendary among Glover’s fans, with one writing recently on “The Wire” message board that Glover has been shot nine times. (Glover’s lawyer, D’Antuono, disputes that account.) According to D’Antuono, Glover began taking acting classes after the gun charge arrest in 2002. Initially, he was sent to a halfway house while his case was pending. D’Antuono eventually persuaded Superior Court Judge Ross to allow Glover to travel to other cities in order to perform with the Backyard Band. That’s when Glover began taking classes in Pennsylvania, D’Antuono says. This spring, Glover auditioned for a role on “The Wire.” and was cast as Slim Charles. Simon says Glover “read beautifully” and was the best actor who tried out for the job. Slim Charles appeared briefly in the first episode of the third season, which began in September. The character is a street enforcer for one of the main heroin dealing crews, known as the Barksdale Gang. By the fourth episode, Slim Charles had memorable screen time as he worked with an old-time drug slinger who had just been released from prison. Charles sets the man up with a gun, drugs, and women. With a 6-foot-6-inch frame and deep voice, Glover’s presence on the screen can be imposing. D.C. crime novel author George Pelecanos, a writer and producer on “The Wire,” says the Slim Charles role was initially planned as a small part with few lines, but was expanded because Glover did such a good job. “I was just so impressed with this guy,” says Pelecanos, adding that he knew Glover from D.C.’s go-go scene. “From where I’m sitting, it is remarkable how far he has come.” Both Simon and Pelecanos say that if “The Wire” returns for a fourth season, Glover would reprise his role as Charles. But his return depends on how Ross rules in the gun case. On Oct. 4, Glover pleaded guilty to carrying a pistol without a license, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years behind bars. As part of a plea deal, federal prosecutors promised to request that Glover receive probation, according to Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips. Under D.C.’s sentencing guidelines, defense lawyers unaffiliated with the case say that Glover, with his prior gun conviction, would likely get 10 to 28 months. They note, however, that the guidelines also allow for a split sentence, as well as probation. Judge Ross, a former federal prosecutor, is known among some defense lawyers and police as a tough sentencer when it comes to repeat offenders. It will be up to D’Antuono to sell Ross on why Glover should remain free. D’Antuono declines to say how she will do so, but notes that Glover has worked hard to turn his life around. For one, D’Antuono says Glover routinely gives speeches to teenagers and children all around the D.C. area in an attempt to steer them away from drugs and violence. She also says Glover lives in Arlington, Va., with his wife, their two children, and a stepchild. Glover has three more children from previous relationships, D’Antuono says. According to materials from Glover’s public relations company, Glover is starting the Ghetto Prince Foundation for Underprivileged Youth, which intends to raise money to provide D.C.-area children with a variety of services, such as mentoring, computer training, and HIV/AIDS awareness. On Oct. 17, Glover hosted a party at a D.C. club, Zanzibar on Waterfront, to celebrate his role on “The Wire” and to raise money for the foundation. Admission was $30 for limited access and $60 for VIP access. Guests included some “Wire” cast members, and several bands provided musical performances. The foundation’s Web site says partial proceeds from the party will go to the foundation. “I certainly think he is doing so many positive things,” D’Antuono says. “It would be a real tragedy if he could not continue on the path he’s on.”

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