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HBO Producer Sentenced To Year In Prison For Moving Dead Body From Chelsea Apartment

Marc Henry Johnson
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Marc Henry Johnson Getty

The producer of an upcoming HBO show was sentenced Tuesday to one year and one day in prison for his role in dragging a dead body into a Chelsea apartment in order to protect his drug dealer's "stash house."

Marc Henry Johnson, executive producer and creator of The Deuce, which premieres on HBO in September, pled guilty earlier this year to being an accessory to moving the body of Dr. Kiersten Cerveny, a Long Island dermatologist who'd overdosed inside a drug dealer's apartment on West 16th Street in October of 2015.

According to court filings, Cerveny and Johnson had met at nearby bar earlier that night, then went to the home of Johnson's longtime friend and dealer James "Pepsi" Holder. After Cerveny overdosed in Holder's home, Johnson "helped move the woman's unresponsive body out of an apartment," down three flights of stairs, and into the vestibule of the building. The incident was caught on the building's surveillance footage, and both men were arrested shortly thereafter.

Holder was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for maintaining a drug-involved premises, and Johnson pled guilty earlier this year to acting as an accessory.

"Faced with a choice between helping his long-time drug dealer avoid arrest or helping a woman survive a cocaine overdose, Marc Henry Johnson chose to help the drug dealer," acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said. "For his callous and illegal choice, Johnson will now join that drug dealer in federal prison.”

During the sentencing, Johnson's lawyer argued that he should be granted leniency because he attempted CPR on Cerveny, and eventually called 911. The Wire creator David Simon also asked the Manhattan federal judge to show leniency, noting that Johnson was an "instrumental" producer on his forthcoming HBO drama The Deuce. The show, focused on the Times Square sex industry of the 1970s, premieres next month on HBO.

"Had he not called for help and had he not remained with the victim, I could not now write this letter nor remain professionally associated with Mr. Johnson," Simon wrote in a letter delivered to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman last week.

Judge Furman, meanwhile, noted that Johnson did not immediately call 911, which could have saved the woman's life, am New York reports. He also refused to identify himself, or offer any details about why Cerveny was unconscious.

"We are tested at times of stress," the judge told Johnson. "Quite honestly, you failed that test."

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