Dealer Gets 10 Years in Death of Wire Star

Irvin Cartagena supplied fentanyl-laced heroin that killed Michael K. Williams
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2023 5:12 PM CDT
Updated Aug 19, 2023 9:03 AM CDT
Dealer Pleads Guilty in Death of Wire Star
Actor Michael K. Williams poses for a portrait at the Beverly Hilton during the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour on July 30, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
UPDATE Aug 19, 2023 9:03 AM CDT

The man who sold Michael K. Williams the drugs that killed him has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. The actor, best known for his roles in The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, died after taking fentanyl-laced heroin he bought from Irvin Cartagena in Brooklyn on Sept. 5, 2021. Judge Ronnie Abrams noted that Cartagena, one of four men to plead guilty in the case, knew the drug was laced with fentanyl, while Williams was unaware, the New York Times reports. "I am very sorry for my actions," the 40-year-old said. "When we sold the drugs, we never intended for anyone to lose their life." Last month, a 72-year-old man arrested in Williams' death was sentenced to 2.5 years.

Apr 5, 2023 5:12 PM CDT

A Brooklyn drug dealer pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing The Wire actor Michael K. Williams with fentanyl-laced heroin, causing his death. Irvin Cartagena's plea to a charge of conspiring to distribute drugs was entered in Manhattan federal court. Sentencing was set by US District Judge Ronnie Abrams for Aug. 18, when Cartagena will face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and the possibility of as many as 40 years, the AP reports. The famed actor, who also starred in films and other TV series including Boardwalk Empire, overdosed in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment in September 2021. Authorities said he died hours after buying the heroin from Cartagena on a Brooklyn sidewalk in a deal that was recorded by a security camera.

Cartagena, 39, signed a plea agreement with prosecutors stipulating that the mix of heroin and fentanyl he sold Williams resulted in his death. His lawyer, Sean Maher, declined comment. US Attorney Damian Williams, who is not related to the actor, said in a statement that the sale occurred in "broad daylight in New York City, feeding addiction and causing tragedy." "In doing so, he dealt the fatal dose that killed Michael K. Williams," Williams said. Prosecutors said Cartagena and his alleged co-conspirators continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin around residential apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan even after they learned of the actor's death. Another defendant in the case pleaded guilty Tuesday.

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Williams' death came despite an investigation by the New York Police Department that placed a paid informant making controlled heroin buys on the same block where Williams bought drugs. The day after the 54-year-old's death, the informant went back to buy more drugs from the same group and recorded a conversation in which some of them talked about Williams' overdose.

(More The Wire stories.)

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