The television producer who left a Long Island dermatologist dying from a cocaine overdose in a Manhattan apartment building vestibule thinks he should do no jail time.
Lawyers for Marc Henry Johnson, in a letter filed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, portrayed him as a man who tried more than is publicly known to help Kiersten Cerveny — even cradling her head as she lay dying — and is now besieged by guilt and depression.
“Mr. Johnson tried to save Dr. Cerveny but failed,” the letter to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said. “He is consumed with guilt that he could not save her and for the role he played in this tragedy.”
The body of Cerveny, 38, a mother of three from Manhasset, was found unresponsive in a Chelsea vestibule in October 2015 by EMS workers.
After she and Johnson met at a bar, they went to the apartment of drug dealer James Holder, the two men have admitted, and they carried her to the vestibule when she showed signs of overdosing. They were caught on a security camera carrying her limp body.
Johnson, 53, of Manhattan, complains in the letter that he has been vilified for not caring, but he claims he tried to help Cerveny down the steps when Holder ordered her out of the apartment, twice tried CPR, called 911 and stayed with her, cradling her head in his lap, until EMS arrived.
While he didn’t stay to provide her name and details of her drug use “as he should have,” the letter said, Johnson was “scared, petrified and panicked.”
Johnson pleaded guilty to being an accessory to hiding a drug “stash house,” but neither man is accused of supplying the drugs that killed Cerveny. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 15.
The memo said Holder made less of an effort to help than Johnson did, and said Cerveny herself had been on a two-day drinking and drug binge that “evinces a reckless disregard for her own well-being.”
Johnson’s career as a producer has included projects with people including Michael Moore and Spike Lee, but has been completely derailed by the Cerveny case, the letter said.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for Johnson to spend 18 to 24 months in prison, the defense said. Holder was imprisoned for 5 years in May on a drug dealing charge.