NEW YORK – 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 U.S. 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 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.
U.S. 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.
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 informant went back to buy more drugs from the same group and recorded a conversation in which some of them talked about Williams’ overdose. One denied selling any drugs containing fentanyl.
Williams’ “stick-up boy” character Omar Little on “The Wire” — a fictionalized look at the underpinnings of Baltimore that ended in 2008 but remains popular in streaming — was based on a real-life figure.
He created another classic character as Chalky White in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and also appeared in “12 Years a Slave,” “Assassin’s Creed” and other films.
In interviews, Williams had spoken about his battles with addiction.