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Four Charged with Killing Michael K. Williams  Cartagena Got a Decade Now Reduction Denied

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Substack

SDNY COURTROOM, June 7 – The four defendants detained for the death of Michael K. Williams were presented in court on August 12, 2022. Inner City Press was the only media in the courtroom.  And see Aug 18 video Q&A here

 On August 12, 2022 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Ronnie Abrams held an in-person proceeding. Inner City Press went and covered it.

There were four defense lawyers, and three of the defendants.

  It was said that one of the defense lawyers could not start a trial earlier than July 15, 2023. Judge Abrams said that was too slow, and defendants nodded. One of them was resisting wearing his COVID mask.  

 A trial date of May 15, 2023 was selected. Then the three defendant, in yellow prison jumpsuits, were led to the elevators of 40 Foley Square.

Previously SDNY said IRVIN CARTAGENA, a/k/a “Green Eyes,” was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court with a narcotics conspiracy in which he distributed the fentanyl-laced heroin that resulted in the death of Michael K. Williams.  In another criminal complaint unsealed today, co-conspirators HECTOR ROBLES, a/k/a “Oreja,” LUIS CRUZ, a/k/a “Mostro,” and CARLOS MACCI, a/k/a “Carlito,” were charged as members of the fentanyl and heroin conspiracy.  CARTAGENA was arrested in Puerto Rico yesterday and is expected to be presented tomorrow in federal court in Puerto Rico.  ROBLES, CRUZ, and MACCI were arrested. 

On August 11, 2023, the US Attorney's Office asked Judge Abrams on August 18 to sentence Cartagena to 180 months, or "to the extent the Court is inclined to sentence lower, the Government respectfully submits that such a term should be no less than 144 months."

On August 18, 2023, Cartagena was sentenced to 120 months, or ten years. He was taken down in the 40 Foley Square elevators by U.S. Marshals, followed in another elevator car by Williams' nephew Dominic Dupont. Inner City Press went down to Foley Square, too, and asked Dupont what he thought of the sentence. He replied, among other things, There are no winners here today. Video here

On June 7, 2024, Judge Abrams denied Caragena's application for a sentencing reduction under Amendment 821, finding him not eligible.

More including analysis on Substack here

On April 4, 2023, Macci pled guilty to a lesser included offense: "Change of Plea Hearing as to Carlos Macci held on 4/4/2023. Defendant (4) Carlos Macci present. Defendant pleads guilty to the lesser included offense of Count One of the Indictment. Sentence is scheduled for July 20, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. Defendant shall remain in custody."

On April 5, Irving Cartegena was bought in the the courtroom in a yellow jumpsuit (presumably in Essex County Correctional Facility - it's not in the docket) to plead guilty. Inner City Press was in the courtroom, with three others in the gallery. Cartegena read an allocution in Spanish. Sentencing was set for August 18 at 3 pm.

On June 19 - Juneteenth - counsel for co-defendant Luis Cruz, who pled guilty, sought to adjourn his August 4 sentencing until "late September," due to counsel's July 11 murder trial before Judge Jed S. Rakoff (US v. Garcia, 21-cr-412), and a brief in Adelglass 23-6193.

On July 25, Macci was up for sentencing and got 30 months after Michael K. Williams' nephew Dominic Dupont spoke. Inner City Press live tweeted it, thread:

OK - now sentencing of Macci has begun. Judge Abrams described death of "actor and activist Michael K. Williams." Macci is using a Spanish interpreter. 

Assistant US Attorney: This is a difficult case. The defendant has over 20 prior convictions, many of them are drug convictions. Since 2016, his four sentences have been time served, with no deterrent impact. He's been using and selling drugs for a long time

 AUSA: We gave this a lot of thought. He never even learned to read; he speaks only Spanish although he has been living in NYC for quite some time. Even the defense seems to admit that being in jail has helped him.

 Defense counsel: I was a big fan of Michael K. Williams. But Mr. Macci was also a victim. He was on the block for the same reason Michael K. Williams was. But he didn't have the chance to use that block as his store, his bodega - it was his home. He steered people

Defense: My client was like the man who lives behind a restaurant and drags garbage bags, hoping to be compensated. Judge Abrams: He was selling drugs. For years. Defense: The government acknowledge how out of control fentanyl and overdoses are.

 Defense: Mr. Macci is a different kind of victim, for sure. He was there perpetuating his own addiction.  Defense: Mr. Williams was opposed to mass incarceration. He said, "The blame lies on no one but me, my addiction lies on me." I suggest send Macci to a residential facility, a glimmer of hope for Mr. Macci. No sentence will fix the problem. He is a product of it

Defense: None of us are better off with Mr. Macci dying in prison. Mr. Williams wrote, "Everyone is a work in progress." AUSA: The Pre-Sentencing Report Para 78-79, he was distributing. [The PSR is sealed.] I want to say, this Office pursues aggressively fentanyl

 Judge Abrams: Would any family members of Mr. Williams wish to be heard?

AUSA: Give me a moment.

Judge Abrams: Or they could speak on one of the other defendants. That's up to you. Dominic Dupont: I'm the nephew of the late great Michael K. Williams. I am thinking of people who have faced the problems of Mr. Macci, poverty and substance abuse disorder, a lack of services, those things are real. What can we do to help these people?

 Dupont: Selling poison to people is not right. It weighs on me, someone in the situation Mr. Macci is in. I understand what it is to be system-impacted. We have a responsibility to provide help, but also create the right balance. You're not dead, you're not done

 Judge Abrams: I have struggled with my decision. The guideline is 168 to 210 months. I generally vary downward in drug cases where guns and violence are not involved. But they sold heroin laced with fentanyl, 50 times more potent. 5 of 8 overdoses are due to it

 Judge Abrams: After fentanyl-laced heroin killed Mr. Williams, Mr. Macci kept selling it. I consider his age, neglect and poverty, his illiteracy and disability. Mr. Macci, please stand. I sentence you to prison for 30 months, followed by one year of treatment

 Judge Abrams: You may appeal, Mr Macci, in forma pauperis. People don't need to be defined by the worst mistake they ever made. Stick with treatment. You can get your GED, & a job.  We can help. Adjourned

More with analysis on Substack here

On August 4 Cartagena, for this August 15 sentencing, pointed out that he began heroin at 13 or younger, versus Macci's 21 years old. Anyone, he says, could have sold the lethal bag he did. Robles and Cruz are worse, he says.

On September 26, counsel for Luis Cruz asked for time served: 19 months. Cited are his three children, and friends in Williamsburg.

On October 3, the US Attorney's Office put in its submission on Luis Cruz, asking for 72 months in prison.

On October 10, Cruz got 5 years: "JUDGMENT IN A CRIMINAL CASE as to Luis Cruz (3). THE DEFENDANT: pleaded guilty to count (1). IMPRISONMENT: 60 months. The court makes the following recommendations to the Bureau of Prisons: It is recommended that the defendant be designated to a facility in or near New York and that he participate in the RDAP Program. The defendant is remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal. SUPERVISED RELEASE: 3 years. ASSESSMENT: $100.00 due immediately. (Signed by Judge Ronnie Abrams on 10/10/2023)."

On October 13, for Hector Robles, the US Attorney's Office wrote in to ask for 84 months.

On October 20, docketed October 23, Robles got five years: "JUDGMENT In A Criminal Case. Date of Imposition of Judgment: 10/20/2023. Defendant Hector Robles (2) pleaded guilty to Count(s) 1. Count(s) Any open counts are dismissed on the motion of the United States. IMPRISONMENT: 60 months."

 The case is USA v. Cartagena, et al., 22-cr-92 (Abrams)


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