Cecilia Gentili attends the 2023 New York City Pride Rally...

Cecilia Gentili attends the 2023 New York City Pride Rally last June. Credit: Getty Images / John Nacion

A West Babylon man is among two defendants arrested for allegedly selling the lethal dose of heroin and fentanyl that caused the February overdose death of New York transgender activist Cecilia Gentili, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Antonio Venti, 52, of West Babylon, and Michael Kuilan, 44, of Brooklyn, were each charged with distribution of heroin and fentanyl causing death and with conspiracy to distribute in connection with drugs Gentili allegedly purchased from Venti the evening before her Feb. 6 death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a news release. Kuilan, who prosecutors said allegedly supplied Venti with the lethal dose the activist purchased for $100, is also facing gun charges.

“Cecilia Gentili, a prominent activist and leader of the New York transgender community was tragically poisoned in her Brooklyn home from fentanyl-laced heroin,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “Today, the alleged perpetrators who sold the deadly dose of drugs to Gentili have been arrested.”

Prosecutors said a series of text messages and cellphone location data linked the two men to the sale. Gentili had inquired about purchasing a “bundle” from Venti on Jan. 30, court records show. Venti then sent a text message to Kuilan asking him to increase an order he had already made for drugs because he needed to “get something for a friend,” according to a bail letter filed by prosecutors Monday. Venti’s cellphone data also shows he was in the same location as Gentili on Feb. 5, prosecutors said.

Investigators found 30 grams of fentanyl contained in “hundreds of baggies” and a handgun while executing a search warrant inside Kuilan’s Williamsburg apartment on March 12, court records show.

Venti and Kuilan, who both have prior felony convictions, face the possibility of life in prison if convicted on the top charge related to the activist’s death. They were scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn Monday afternoon.

The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and toxicology analysis of Gentili and found she died of acute intoxication caused by the combined effects of fentanyl, heroin, xylazine and cocaine. Gentili’s blood reflected lethal concentrations of fentanyl and heroin, prosecutors said.

A former sex worker who suffered addiction and was jailed at Rikers Island, Gentili became a transgender health program coordinator, a nonprofit policy director, and a lobbyist for health equality and anti-discrimination legislation, among other advocacy work, The Associated Press reported.

Venti and Kuilan were arraigned by U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn Monday. Kuilan was released on a $250,000 bond and Venti was released on a $100,000 bond. They are due back in court on April 22.

Latest video


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months