2nd guilty plea in Kiersten Cerveny’s death

Kirsten Cerveny died of a cocaine overdose in October 2015. (Photo via Facebook)

A TV producer on Tuesday became the second man to plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from the death of a Manhasset woman, federal prosecutors said.

Marc Henry Johnson pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory to a narcotics crime, admitting that he moved the body of 38-year-old Kiersten Cerveny out of the Manhattan apartment where she overdosed on cocaine in October 2015, Joon H. Kim, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

Johnson admitted in court that he tried to cover up the fact that James “Pepsi” Holder, whom he and Cerveny were with the night she died, was selling cocaine out of that apartment, Newsday reported.

“Marc Henry Johnson’s immediate response to seeing a dying overdose victim should have been to summon help,” Kim said in a statement. “Instead, Johnson helped his cocaine dealer cover up the drug crime by moving the victim’s body.”

Johnson is set to be sentenced June 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison for the charge acting as an accessory to maintaining a drug-involved premises, Kim’s statement said.

Holder faces up to 20 years in prison on the charge of maintaining a drug-involved premises, to which he pleaded guilty in December. He is set to be sentenced May 4.

Attorneys for Johnson and Holder did not respond to requests for comment.

Cerveny, a dermatologist who practiced in Williston Park, had been partying with Johnson on the night of Oct. 3, 2015, before they went to Holder’s apartment together at 4:25 a.m. on Oct. 4, prosecutors said.

Cerveny became unresponsive and the pair dragged her into the apartment building’s vestibule before Johnson called 911, prosecutors said. Medical examiners found her death was caused in part by a cocaine overdose.

Johnson, who has produced TV shows such as HBO’s upcoming series “The Deuce,” told federal Judge Jesse M. Furman in court Tuesday that he “panicked” when Cerveny overdosed and tried to revive her with CPR before leaving the vestibule, according to Newsday.

Johnson frequently bought drugs from Holder and the two were accused of working together to distribute cocaine, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Johnson is free while he awaits sentencing but has been subject to drug testing and treatment under the conditions of his release, court records say.

Johnson and Holder were arrested in May 2016. Neither man was directly charged with responsibility for Cerveny’s death, which attracted a flurry of media attention.

Cerveny is survived by a husband and three children, who still live in Manhasset.

About the author

Noah Manskar

Noah Manskar is the assistant managing editor for Blank Slate Media and a reporter covering the Willistons, New Hyde Park and Nassau County government.
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