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A Day in Court for Actor on 'The Wire'

Go-Go's Big G Given Suspended Sentence on Gun Charge

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 23, 2004; Page C01

Slim Charles, the cool-talking, gun-toting enforcer on HBO's "The Wire," nearly ended up behind bars on this week's season finale. And yesterday go-go legend Big G -- aka Genghis Glover -- who plays Slim Charles on the HBO series, dodged some real-life jail time at D.C. Superior Court.

Charged with possession of a gun, Big G walked out of the courthouse yesterday morning with a suspended sentence and unsupervised probation, free to go to New York, where he is due to audition today, his lawyer said in court, for a spot on NBC's hit crime series "Law & Order."

Go-go celebrity and actor Big G got probation and a suspended sentence yesterday on a gun charge. (Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)

Big G long ago established himself as a towering figure in the District's homegrown music style, and of late as a critic of the violence that ravages so many young lives.

Now 31, Glover -- born Ralph Anwan Glover -- is trying to make a name for himself as an actor after his performance last year in local filmmaker Bruce Brown's "Divided City." He caught on with the cast of "The Wire" and turned what was intended as a bit part into a significant supporting role, as the raspy-voiced head henchman for the Barksdale drug gang.

Set in Baltimore, "The Wire" just wrapped up its third season; HBO has not decided whether to bring it back for a fourth. In its three years, the show has drawn a small but devoted Sunday night following, not least among some law enforcement types, who appreciate its unconventional look at the complexities of combating the drug trade.

It is the sort of underworld Glover knows well, even as he has extracted himself from it and worked to warn young people of its perils, his lawyer, Frances D'Antuono, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Growing up in the District's Columbia Heights section, Glover ran with a rough crowd in a rough neighborhood. He has had earlier run-ins with the law, including convictions for drug possession in the early 1990s and for gun possession a few years ago.

And he has been shot -- nine times, according to Glover's recent witness to young people at a Fort Washington church. In 1997 Big G was shot onstage while performing with his Backyard Band at a club in Langley Park. Struck in the elbow and the groin, he still has bullet fragments lodged in his body. Earlier that year, he threw out a fan at a show at the Ibex on Georgia Avenue; the fan then fatally shot D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson outside.

D'Antuono, who has represented Glover for more than a decade, said Big G fears being targeted again, perhaps by a disaffected fan or perhaps by someone looking to make a name. That, she said, was why Glover had the 9mm Smith & Wesson that police found in his SUV when he was stopped on Dec. 11, 2002, in the 1300 block of Vermont Avenue NW.

But he has come to realize that he has to protect himself in other ways, D'Antuono said. So he has moved to the suburbs and has tried to focus on his family and entertainment career. "He understands full well that the streets offer nothing of value to anyone," she said.

When he arrived at court yesterday, Glover, under his plea agreement, faced a maximum of five years in prison. But the court's voluntary guidelines provided probation as a possible sentence. Prosecutors not only were unopposed to probation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu told Judge Maurice A. Ross, "we are affirmatively recommending probation."

Dressed in jeans and a dark patterned shirt, Glover spoke briefly to the court. "I realize that it was wrong to carry a weapon in the District," he told Ross.

First scheduled for Dec. 10, the sentencing was postponed to allow Glover's lawyer more time to complete her submissions to the judge, which included many letters of support. One was from the chaplain at the District's juvenile detention center, Oak Hill, where Glover has talked to the young offenders, she said. Another was from George Pelecanos, the crime writer whose novels are set in and around the District and who is a producer of "The Wire."

"I really believe that his guy wants to be on the straight," Pelecanos said yesterday. "No matter what happened before in his life, he's truly trying to turn it around."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company