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Real-Life Prosecutor Comments on Movie Portrayal

Posted Nov 1, 2007 10:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A film to be released this Friday called American Gangster features Denzel Washington as a drug kingpin and Russell Crowe as the prosecutor who put him behind bars.

In real life, the people they portray are convicted drug dealer Frank Lucas and former Essex County, N.Y., prosecutor Richard Roberts, the New York Times reports. At one time Lucas put out a $100,000 contract on the life of the man who put him behind bars for plotting to smuggle heroin in the coffins of dead soldiers. But eventually Lucas became an informant, and the two men became friends.

Roberts told the Times he can’t explain the ongoing friendship. “What he did disgusts me,” he said. “But here we are.”

Roberts worries that the movie will glorify the drug trade. “In truth, Frank Lucas has probably destroyed more black lives than the KKK could ever dream of,” he said.

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