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HBO Producer Pleads Guilty in Chelsea Overdose Death of Long Island Doctor

By Maya Rajamani | March 22, 2017 2:02pm
 Marc Henry Johnson and James 'Pepsi' Holder were arrested in connection to Dr. Kiersten Cerveny's deadly overdose in 2015. 
Kiersten Cerveny Overdose Death
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CHELSEA — An HBO producer accused of covering up the overdose death of a Long Island doctor by moving her body to a building vestibule could face up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday, a federal judge said.

Police found dermatologist Kiersten Cerveny, 38, passed out in the doorway of a West 16th Street apartment on Oct. 4, 2015, after she spent the evening partying with producer Marc Henry Johnson, 52, and his cocaine dealer James “Pepsi” Holder, authorities said.

Johnson — who produced a pilot for upcoming HBO drama “The Deuce” — dragged Cerveny’s unconscious body from Holder’s third-floor apartment to the building’s vestibule before calling 911 to report that she had overdosed on cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

He failed to tell the 911 operator who the dermatologist was or what had happened to her, and refused to provide his name, prosecutors said.

EMTs transported the “unresponsive” Cerveny from the vestibule to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead later that morning.

On Tuesday, Johnson pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory after the fact to a narcotics offense, prosecutors said.

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

“In this time of a growing overdose epidemic, today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder that the proper response to a potential drug overdose is to immediately call 911, not to delay to help cover for the drug dealer."

Cerveny — a mother-of-three from Manhasset — met up with Johnson and a few other people at a bar in Manhattan the night before her death, authorities said. The dermatologist had been using cocaine before the producer got to the bar, prosecutors noted.

The pair then went to Holder’s apartment on West 16th Street, near Seventh Avenue, where Cerveny was later found unconscious.

Johnson is expected to be sentenced June 26.

Holder, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in December to maintaining a drug-involved premise and could face up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

An attorney for Johnson didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.