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Actor arrested is assault of cop

By ESTHER PESSIN

NEW YORK -- Actor Eric Roberts, who starred in 'The Pope of Greenwich Village,' was arrested early Thursday for allegedly punching a police officer who was trying to lead Roberts out of an apartment building where he had been banging on a woman's door.

The handsome 31-year-old rising star was charged with second-degree assault and criminal trespass as well as possession of cocaine and marijuana and was being held in jail until his arraignment.

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His lawyer, Roanne Mann, said the actor 'is not in terrific shape. He may have a broken nose.'

Another lawyer, David Ellenhorn, said Roberts was injured during the 'altercation' with police.

'He's obviously not happy to be there (in jail),' Ellenhorn said.

Roberts was arrested at 2:45 a.m. outside a second-floor apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, police said.

He was picked up after a woman who lived in the apartment building flagged down a passing patrol car and told officers a man was banging on her friend's apartment, police spokesman Sgt. John Venetucci said.

'He met this lady at a party a year ago, and the lady didn't remember him,' Officer Janice Swinney said, adding that she did not know why the actor had gone there at that hour.

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Officers called to the scene found Roberts, 'who was intoxicated,' Venetucci said.

As they were leading him out of the apartment building, he threw a punch at one officer and missed and then hit another policeman in the shoulder, police said.

Officer Brian O'Neill charged that the actor 'caused him substantial pain and contusions' during a struggle to lead the film star out of the building, authorities said.

The victim, Elizabeth Greenberg, had called a her friend when she heard the pounding on the door and told the other woman someone was trying to break in, authorities said.

Greenberg could not be reached for comment, but she said on her telephone answering machine: 'Wow, what an eventful week I've had.'

Police said Roberts was carrying two glass bottles with cocaine and a marijuana cigarette as well as a plastic bag containing that drug.

Robert's lawyer denied the charges.

'There's a misunderstanding here. He was not trespassing. He did not assault a police officer and he was not in possession of cocaine,' Ellenhorn said. He said he did not know whether the actor had marijuana.

'He was not intoxicated when I saw him,' Ellenhorn said.

'He was going to see someone who used to live there (at the apartment). It was not his girlfriend. Someone apparently got frightened and thought he was breaking in,' Ellenhorn said.

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Roberts' films include 'The Pope of Greenwich Village' with Mickey Rourke, 'Runaway Train' with Jon Voigt, 'Star 80,' and 'King of the Gypsies.'

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