A man who sold a fatal dose of fentanyl-laced heroin to Michael K. Williams, the actor who rose to fame for his portrayal of a stickup man named Omar Little on the HBO series “The Wire,” was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison.
The man, Irvin Cartagena, was one of four men who were arrested last year and charged with running a drug trafficking operation out of an apartment building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn; all four pleaded guilty.
But it was Mr. Cartagena who sold Mr. Williams the drugs that killed him on Sept. 5, 2021. Mr. Williams, 54, met the men in front of the apartment building that day and Mr. Cartagena handed him the drugs, prosecutors said. He returned to his own apartment nearby and was found dead the following day. His death was ruled an accidental drug overdose weeks later.
Mr. Cartagena, 40, who is also known as “Green Eyes,” was first introduced to heroin when he was 13 years old and living in Puerto Rico, where he grew up, his lawyers said. He was struggling with school and spending more and more time on the streets in order to avoid a tumultuous and violent family life, according to court records.
He quickly became hooked on the drug, and from then on his addiction grew “almost unabated,” his lawyers wrote.
In a filing ahead of his sentencing, Mr. Cartagena’s lawyers argued that the men who sold Mr. Williams the drugs were not “cartel leaders, gang members or even bosses.” Rather, they were at the “absolute bottom of the rung in the narcotics trade,” the lawyers wrote.
They noted that Mr. Cartagena’s bosses paid him in heroin to “salve his own personal addiction,” as well as a few dollars per bag sold.
Prosecutors said Mr. Cartagena and the other men continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin even after Mr. Williams’s death. A confidential informant and undercover officers bought drugs from the ring more than a dozen times.
One of Mr. Cartagena’s co-defendants, Carlos Macci, was sentenced last month to 30 months in prison. The other two men await sentencing hearings next month.
In the weeks before Mr. Macci’s sentencing, the judge received a letter from David Simon, a friend of Mr. Williams and the co-creator of “The Wire,” who asked the judge for leniency and to sentence Mr. Macci to time served, which would amount to about one and a half years.
Mr. Simon told the court that Mr. Williams saw his drug addiction as his own responsibility.
“I know that Michael would look upon the undone and desolate life of Mr. Macci and know two things with certainty: First, that it was Michael who bears the fuller responsibility for what happened,” Mr. Simon wrote.
And second, he said: “No possible good can come from incarcerating a 71-year-old soul, largely illiterate, who has himself struggled with a lifetime of addiction.”
Mr. Cartagena’s lawyers wrote that he had “accepted responsibility for his actions” and felt “deeply remorseful” for his involvement in Mr. Williams’s death.
They asked the judge to avoid sentencing disparities between the men, arguing that although Mr. Cartagena handed the drugs to Mr. Williams, one of the other three men could have easily been the one who conducted the sale.