Irvin Cartagena pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to a charge of planning to sell drugs. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams scheduled the sentencing for August 18; Cartagena will then be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail and a maximum sentence of forty years.
The well-known actor, who appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, including “Boardwalk Empire,” overdosed in his penthouse Brooklyn residence in September 2021. Authorities reported that he passed away a few hours after purchasing the heroin from Cartagena on a Brooklyn sidewalk in a transaction that was caught on video.
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.