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Long Island

HBO producer gets 1 year, 1 day sentence in LI dermatologist’s death

HBO producer Marc Henry Johnson, 53, of Manhattan, was sentenced on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, to 1 year and a day in prison for dragging an overdosed Manhasset woman's body into a Chelsea building foyer to hide a drug dealer's apartment from authorities. Kiersten Cerveny, 38, a dermatologist, died in 2015 after a cocaine overdose. This surveillance footage was Exhibit J in the case and was played Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan. (Credit: Freeman Nooter & Ginsberg)

A Manhattan federal judge on Tuesday sentenced HBO producer Marc Henry Johnson to 1 year and a day in prison for dragging overdosed Long Island dermatologist Dr. Kiersten Cerveny’s body into a Chelsea building foyer to hide a drug dealer’s apartment from authorities.

Johnson, 53, of Manhattan, had asked for no jail time, arguing to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman that after carousing at a bar and doing cocaine at dealer James Holder’s apartment, he at least tried CPR and called 911 after moving Cerveny’s body.

But the judge said Cerveny might have survived the 2015 incident, if Johnson had called 911 immediately — before moving her — and told paramedics she overdosed on cocaine instead of just saying she had passed out.

“You made the wrong choice with potentially quite tragic consequences,” he said. “There is a very real possibility that had you taken action immediately . . . the outcome might have been very different.”

Although Johnson said he tried to treat Cerveny decently, the judge also played in court a grim, grainy surveillance video of the two men pulling her limp body out of the dealer’s apartment, and then dragging her along a hallway as her head lolled and blonde hair swept the floor.

Furman also unsealed part of the government sentencing memo indicating “someone” took the time to “dress her hastily before bringing her” out and left her in the vestibule with blouse partly off, pants buttoned but unzipped, and underwear in her purse, which Holder carried in the video.

“We are tested at times of stress,” Furman told Johnson. “Quite honestly, you failed that test.”

Federal guidelines called for Johnson to get 18 to 24 months for hiding a drug location. Prosecutors asked for the top of that range. Holder got 5 years for dealing. Neither man was charged with supplying the drugs that killed Cerveny, 38, a Manhasset mother of three.

Johnson, a Cornell graduate and one of the creators of the soon-to-premiere HBO porn industry drama “The Deuce,” had told Furman he was filled with remorse for what had happened and had tried to solve his own substance abuse problems by staying drug-free since 2015.

“Please give me a chance to redeem myself,” he said to Furman.

After he was told he was going to prison, he appeared to choke up and his lawyers asked the judge for a moment to let him compose himself. He did not comment to reporters afterward.

By giving Johnson one day more than a year, Furman made Johnson eligible to get out in 10 months with credits for good behavior. He also imposed a $20,000 fine and ordered 200 hours of community service.

In October 2015, Johnson, Cerveny and friends met at a Manhattan bar, and then Cerveny and Johnson took a cab to Holder’s apartment around 4:30 a.m.

Prosecutors say Holder and Johnson were friends, and he had used the dealer’s apartment frequently as a drugs and sex lair. A video released Tuesday showed her wearing cat ears and busting a dance move as they arrived at Holder’s apartment.

Johnson said Holder was the one who made him move Cerveny out of the apartment when she became ill. After they got her to the vestibule, Holder left. But Johnson stayed and called 911, waiting for paramedics to arrive, and the defense introduced a video — also unsealed — that showed Johnson directing them into the lobby before he left the scene.

David Simon, producer of “The Wire” and a friend of Johnson, had argued in a letter to Furman that it was bad policy to punish drug users who do make the effort to help a friend by calling 911.

But the judge said Johnson wasn’t caught because he called 911, and shouldn’t benefit from his decision to delay and keep from paramedics the fact that Cerveny was doing drugs — information that might have helped her.

“I can’t get past the fact that your conduct may have caused the death,” he said.

Johnson was ordered to surrender on Sept. 29.

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