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Actor’s Nephew Asks for Leniency in Drug Death Sentencing

After calls for compassion in the prosecution of the man who supplied the heroin and fentanyl that killed "The Wire" actor Michael K. Williams, a New York federal judge sentenced the defendant to 30 months in prison, a downward departure from sentencing guidelines and from the sentence that prosecutors sought, the Associated Press reports. The defendant, Carlos Macci, 71, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics charges that carried a maximum possible sentence of nearly 20 years. Federal sentencing guidelines called for double-digit years in prison, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah F. Fergenson had urged a sentence of at least four years, saying Macci had more than 20 previous convictions and had not spent much time behind bars despite four drug-related convictions since 2016. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams told Macci that selling heroin and fentanyl “not only cost Mr. Williams his life, but it’s costing your freedom,” in part because he did not stop selling drugs after Williams died.


Williams, who played the outlaw Omar Little on "HBO's The Wire" and also starred in the series "Boardwalk Empire," died of an overdose in his Brooklyn apartment in 2021, the Associated Press reports. Macci benefited from words spoken on his behalf by Williams’ nephew, who recommended compassion, and a sentencing letter submitted weeks ago in which David Simon, a co-creator of “The Wire,” urged leniency, saying Williams himself “would fight for Mr. Macci.” Dominic Dupont, Williams’ nephew, told the judge that he believed Macci can turn his life around. “It weighs heavy on me to see someone be in a situation he’s in,” Dupont said. “I understand what it is to be system impacted.” In his letter, Simon noted the actor’s opposition to mass incarceration and the drug war and the fact that Williams had engaged with ex-felons and restorative justice groups. Simon also described how Williams, during the show’s third season, quietly acknowledged his own struggles with addiction and allowed a crew member to provide constant companionship to help him resist the temptation to do drugs. Simon said Williams confided that an impulse toward addiction would be a constant in his life. “I miss my friend,” he wrote. “But I know that Michael would look upon the undone and desolate life of Mr. Macci and know two things with certainty: First, that it was Michael who bears the fuller responsibility for what happened. And second, no possible good can come from incarcerating a 71-year-old soul, largely illiterate, who has himself struggled with a lifetime of addiction."

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