Actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, who played a murderous member of a Baltimore drug gang in the hit HBO series "The Wire," is shocked to be facing charges of conspiring to sell heroin, her attorney said Friday.
"She's a little bit dismayed at being in position that she didn't place herself in," attorney Paul Gardner said.
Pearson, 30, who was ordered held without bail Friday, denies the charges. Her attorney plans to file a writ of habeas corpus and motion for bail review Monday.
Pearson is one of 64 people charged Thursday in "Operation Usual Suspects," a joint state-federal prosecution of an alleged east Baltimore drug gang. Of the 38 people arrested by Thursday, 22, including Pearson, are facing state charges. An indictment charges her with conspiring with two men to distribute heroin and aiding and abetting.
The federal indictment states that since 2008, members of the conspiracy bought heroin from New York and marijuana from California and sold the drugs on the streets of Baltimore neighborhoods. As part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges, members discussed how those who failed to perform required tasks were dealt with violently.
Gardner missed Pearson's hearing Friday afternoon. But on a recording of the proceedings, Gardner said, the judge mentioned that the state has audio of Pearson putting in a large amount of money to fund the drug operation. She told him she doesn't know what prosecutors are talking about because she doesn't sell drugs, he said.
"I'm not sure where this money is supposed to come from," Gardner said, noting the tough economy. "She's not particularly blessed with deep pockets at this point."
"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 through the stories of the city's police, drug organizations, schools, politicians and media. Pearson's character, which shares the nickname "Snoop," knocks off several people for the fictitious Stanfield drug gang.
Pearson signed with Tillery Music Group and was working on her first album, "Baltimore's Finest," according to Salaam Id-deen of Tillery Music Group, a spokesman and friend. The album is still scheduled for spring release. Pearson was also working on two films, "Shoot First" with director Charles S. Dutton, and the autobiographical "Who are you? The Story of Felicia Pearson" with director Len Daniels, he said.
This is not Pearson's first brush with the law. She was convicted of second-degree murder in a slaying committed when she was 14. She served five years of an eight-year sentence and was released in 2000.
Pearson was arrested on a minor drug charge in 2008 when police went to her home to pick her up for refusing to cooperate as a witness in a murder trial. She was found not guilty.
Of the dozens of names in court documents Gardner showed her when they spoke in the lockup Friday, Pearson said she recognized only one, he said. He's concerned that this is a case of "guilty by association."
"Drugs are bad. We have to get them off the street," Gardner said. "But we have to be careful to get the right folks off the street."