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Dealer charged in actor Michael K. Williams' overdose death pleads guilty

Williams, known for his role in “The Wire,” died after taking fentanyl-laced heroin in New York City in 2021.
Image: Michael Kenneth Williams
Actor Michael K. Williams in Beverly Hills, Calif., on July 30, 2016.Chris Pizzello / AP file

A New York City man charged in the overdose death of “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday and faces at least five years in prison, prosecutors said.

Irvin Cartagena, 39, of Brooklyn, is one of four people charged in connection with the 2021 death of Williams, who played Omar Little in the hit HBO series. Williams died after having taken fentanyl-laced heroin, officials said.

Cartagena pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to distribute heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogue, the U.S. attorney’s office for Southern New York said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Cartagena did the hand-to-hand transaction with Williams on Sept. 5, 2021, the day before he was found dead.

“Williams died as a result of using that fentanyl-laced heroin,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

An attorney for Cartagena did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

Cartagena pleaded guilty to a narcotics conspiracy but did not plead guilty to the statutory offense of distributing the drugs that caused Williams' death, the prosecutors' office said.

Cartagena faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison when he is sentenced, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 18, according to court records.

Police responded to Williams’ Brooklyn apartment at 2 p.m. Sept. 6 and found him dead, officials have said.

Williams was nominated for an Emmy Award five times, most recently in 2021 for his performance as Montrose Freeman in HBO’s “Lovecraft County.”

A medical examiner ruled that he died of an accidental overdose. Williams had been open about his struggles with drug addiction.

One of the three other people charged, Carlos Macci, pleaded guilty to a narcotics conspiracy Tuesday, according to court records. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 20.

Macci's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

The cases against the two other men are pending, according to court records.