NYC drug dealer sentenced to 10 years in death of actor Michael K. Williams


NEW YORK (AP) — A New York drug dealer was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for administering fentanyl-laced heroin to “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams, which resulted in his death.

Irvin Cartagena, 40, of Aibonito, Puerto Rico, was convicted by US District Judge Ronnie Abrams. Cartagena had pleaded guilty in April on drug-distribution conspiracy charges.

Williams overdosed in his Brooklyn penthouse in September 2021. He died hours after authorities said he bought the Cartagena-made heroin on a sidewalk in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a deal caught on security camera.

Williams portrayed the famous role of Omar Little, the renegade drug dealer robber, on the HBO series The Wire, which ran from 2002 to 2008. In addition to his work on the critically acclaimed drama, Williams has also acted in films and other TV series such as The Wire. Boardwalk Empire.”

Cartagena faced a mandatory prison sentence of at least five years and could have faced up to 40 years behind bars.

“I am very sorry for my actions,” he said before the verdict was announced. “When we were selling the drugs, we never intended for anyone to lose their life.”

Abrams noted that those who knew Cartagena said he was “helpful, humble and hardworking” when he wasn’t on drugs himself.

“I hope the treatment will help you move down a more productive and law-abiding path,” the judge said.

In a statement, US Attorney Damian Williams noted that those involved in selling the drugs to Williams already knew someone else had died from the drugs they were selling.

Prosecutors said Cartagena and others continued to sell fentanyl-spiked heroin in Manhattan and Brooklyn even after Williams’ death, although Cartagena eventually fled to Puerto Rico, where he was arrested in February 2022.

In a defense pleading ahead of the sentencing hearing, Cartagena’s attorney Sean Maher said his client was paid to sell heroin on the street to fund his own use.

“In a tragic moment, it was Mr. Cartagena who handed the small packet of drugs to Mr. Williams – it could easily have been any other man who was there or nearby selling the same drugs,” Maher wrote. “Sentencing Mr. Cartagena to double-digit prison terms will not restore the good life that was lost.”

Prosecutors issued a statement calling for a minimum sentence of 12 years in prison, while the court’s parole board recommended a 20-year sentence after citing Cartagena’s 14 previous drug-related convictions, including burglary, robbery and prison escape.

However, Abrams said the recommendations were “just too high.”

“While this punishment is harsh, it is sufficient, but not more than necessary,” she said.

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