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2 Men Charged With Supplying Drugs That Killed Cecilia Gentili

2 Men Charged With Supplying Drugs That Killed Cecilia Gentili


Two men have been charged with providing fentanyl-laced heroin that killed Cecilia Gentili, a prominent transgender activist and actress who was found dead in her Brooklyn home in February.

The indictment accused Michael Kuilan, 44, and Antonio Venti, 52, of supplying Ms. Gentili with the drugs, according to an announcement Monday by federal prosecutors in New York. It was the first time that officials have disclosed Ms. Gentili’s cause of death.

Ms. Gentili was a well-known community leader, activist and actress on the critically acclaimed television show “Pose.” Her death, at age 52, was met with an outpouring of grief from the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and she was mourned by New York elected officials, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Her life was celebrated with an energetic and politically charged funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which subsequently denounced the event after fiery backlash from conservative news media over the comportment of some of the mourners.

Breon Peace, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement on Monday that Ms. Gentili had been “tragically poisoned in her Brooklyn home from fentanyl-laced heroin.”

“Fentanyl is a public health crisis,” he added. “Our office will spare no effort in the pursuit of justice for the many New Yorkers who have lost loved ones due to this lethal drug.”

According to the indictment, Ms. Gentili left home for several hours on the evening of Feb. 5 and purchased drugs from Mr. Venti. When she returned home, she told her partner she was not feeling well and went to bed. The next morning, police officers found Ms. Gentili dead in her bedroom after her partner called 911.

Prosecutors said she died as a result of the combined effects of heroin, xylazine, cocaine and fentanyl. They said an analysis of cellphone data and text messages showed that Mr. Venti sold the drug mixture to Ms. Gentili, and that he originally obtained the drugs from Mr. Kuilan.

Frank Tarentino, a special agent with the New York division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Ms. Gentili’s death was “a reminder of the dangers that illicit drugs have on all communities, including the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community.”

“Fentanyl is a deadly drug that dealers mix into their product and has accounted for 70 percent of drug-related deaths nationwide,” he said. “The more people that know about the dangers of today’s drug landscape, the more lives can be saved.”

According to the indictment, police officers searched Mr. Kuilan’s apartment in Brooklyn and found hundreds of small bags of fentanyl that contained approximately 30 grams of the drug.

Prosecutors said that was enough to administer lethal doses to several thousand people. A lethal dose for most adults is two milligrams, roughly the size of half a dozen grains of salt.

Mr. Kuilan was also charged with unlawful gun possession. If found guilty, Mr. Kuilan and Mr. Venti could face life in prison, prosecutors said.



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