Actress Felicia Pearson Held in Baltimore Jail Without Bail on Drug Charges
Fame is a double-edged sword, as actress Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, who played a murderous member of a Baltimore drug gang on the hit HBO series “The Wire,” has discovered.
Since her role as Snoop ended with the series in 2008, Pearson, 30, has had few new job offers, but some serious brushes with the law.
Currently, she is being held in a Baltimore jail without bail on charges of conspiring to sell heroin. She was arrested on March 10, along with 38 others, during a predawn raid at her home in Baltimore following a five-month Drug Enforcement Agency operation.
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Pearson denies the charges and her lawyer Paul Gardner told ABCNews.com, “She’s in good spirits, though she’s a little dismayed at being in this position that she didn’t place herself in. She’s been squeaky clean.”
But for now it appears that her role as a drug dealer and assassin on the HBO show is working against her.
According to the Baltimore Sun, when the prosecutor argued during last Friday’s bail hearing that Pearson travels frequently for her job, the actress shot back angrily, “How can I go anywhere? Everybody knows my name.”
That was precisely the reason, Judge John Addison Howard responded, why he was withholding bail. “You are a good actress,” he said, according to the Sun. “Everybody knows your name. People change names. They also can …”
Pearson interrupted: “I can’t change my face.”
“Well, you can change your appearance,” the judge said. “I’ve seen the episodes of ‘The Wire’ in which you appear. You look very different than you do here today, and I’m not talking about the jumpsuit. I’m talking about your general appearance.”
Gardner, who filed a motion for a bail review, called the judge’s decision “unusual.” “I disrespectfully disagree,” he told ABCNews.com. “Felicia looks exactly exactly the same as she has the last five years — just how she looked on ‘The Wire.'”
According to The Associated Press, Pearson was one of 64 people charged last Thursday in “Operation Usual Suspects,” a joint state-federal prosecution of an alleged east Baltimore drug gang. The actress is facing state charges of conspiring with two men to distribute heroin as well as aiding and abetting.
Gardner believes Pearson’s case is one of “guilt by association or talking to the wrong people.” He said according to the allegation, she was recorded discussing money but “she could have been talking about buying dinner.
“Pearson told the judge that she couldn’t have been part of a drug dealing conspiracy because “I have no money. Check my bank account. I have no money.”
Gardner said Pearson has been dealing with financial difficulties lately, including foreclosure on her house. Fortunately she had found work recently and was filming two movies, one with Charles S. Dutton and the other with “Precious” director Lee Daniels.
Since her arrest, “Wire” creator David Simon has come to her defense. In a blog posted on Slate.com, he wrote, “This young lady has, from her earliest moments, had one of the hardest lives imaginable.”
“She worked hard as an actor and was entirely professional, but the entertainment industry as a whole does not offer a great many roles for those who can portray people from the other America,” he said. “There are, in fact, relatively few stories told about the other America.”
“The Wire,” which ran from 2002 to 2008, was filmed in Baltimore and put a spotlight on the city’s struggle with poverty and drug violence. Pearson’s character, which shares the nickname “Snoop,” murders several people for the fictitious Stanfield drug gang.
“Felicia never felt that ‘The Wire’ did more than harm than good,” her manager Ally Roberson told ABCNews.com. “It’s been a real blessing for her. She appreciates everything she’s been able to gain. But while living in Baltimore, it’s had the serious affect of not allowing her to move forward.”
In 2008, Pearson was arrested on a minor drug charge after she refused to cooperate as a witness in a murder trial. “The police broke down her door, shackled her feet, pretty much dragged through the mud,” Roberson said.
She was ultimately found not guilty.
Pearson’s first brush with the law came at an early age. She served five years in prison for a slaying committed when she was 14. She was released in 2000.
According to her memoir “Grace After Midnight,” prison helped Pearson turn her life around. Born to two incarcerated drug addicts, Pearson was raised in foster homes and dealt drugs instead of going to school. While in prison, she earned her GED.
After her release, she met actor Michael K. Williams, who played Omar Little on “The Wire.” He brought her to the set and, following an audtion, she was cast as Snoop.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.