MANHATTAN – Two men who were seen with a Long Island doctor the night she died of a drug overdose, her lifeless body lying in the vestibule of a Manhattan apartment building, have been arrested on federal drug charges, NYPD officials said.
Marc Johnson, 52, and James "Pepsi"Holder, 60, are accused of distributing cocaine and are expected to be arraigned in federal court Wednesday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. They are alleged to have given Dr. Kiersten Cerveny her fatal hit.
Johnson is a former HBO producer who partied with Cerveny during what would become her final hours. Holder is a reputed drug dealer whose last arrest was in 1993, Boyce said.
"He has felt awful awful from the moment it happened," the lawyer for Johnson, Lee Ginsberg, told PIX11.
That night, Holder allegedly distributed the cocaine that led to the doctor's death.
It was about 8:30 a.m. Oct. 4 when officers found Cerveny’s body sprawled by the front door of a fifth-floor walk-up on West 16th Street in Chelsea, police said. She has bruises around her neck.
According to the complaint, both the HBO producer and the alleged drug dealer dragged the doctor's unresponsive body into the vestibule.
Holder left immediately, Johnson stayed until the emergency medical technicians arrived.
The HBO producer is the one who called 911, but according to the complaint, refused to give his name, or describe his relationship to the doctor and say why she needed medical help.
Boyce said Johnson "facilitated and abetted the crime." All three of them took a car from the bar back to the apartment building where Cerveny was found dead, a police source told PIX11 News.
Police said surveillance video showed the men carrying Cerveny's body down the stairs to the building's lobby hours later.
In Federal Court, Johnson and Holder were arraigned on drug charges including attempted narcotics distribution, narcotics conspiracy and accessory after the fact after a joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the NYPD.
"These are an unusual set of charges," Ginsberg said, implying that it was because the victim was a well-respected dermatologist that his client and Holder were arrested on federal drug charges.
The 38-year-old’s death was ruled accidental by the city’s Medical Examiner. She died of acute cocaine and alcohol intoxication, the ME said.
"We tend to go after drug dealers for selling illegal drugs. We may need to start taking a very close look at if we can make the link, if the drugs they sold, contributed to the death of an individual," NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said.
"Even though that individual may have been voluntarily ingesting that drug, we may want to take a close look at examining the penalties for their involvement."
Cerveny was survived by her husband and three children, ages 1 to 7 at the time of her death.
Her wedding in 2009 to Dr. Andrew Cerveny Jr. was featured in the New York Times. She received her medical degree from Tulane University after graduating magna cum laude from Duke University and was the chief of dermatology at the Brooklyn Hospital Center for the past seven years. Her husband has a private dermatology practice in Massapequa.
The people who live and work on this block of west 16th were so upset about the death of the Doctor.
"It was really appalling," Taylor Greaves, a neighbor told PIX12. "I am glad they
finally got them on something."
When PIX11 tried to find out if Johnson is still a producer on the HBO The Deuce, we received the statement from David Simon, EP and show runner on The Deuce.
“Foremost, this is a grievous tragedy for a young woman and her family. As evidence has yet to be presented and the case yet to be adjudicated, it would be irresponsible to say more than that at this point.”
Both Johnson and Holder are expected back in court on June 24.