The body of Manhasset dermatologist Kiersten Rickenbach Cerveny was dumped in an apartment building vestibule after overdosing last October to protect a giant cocaine ring, Manhattan federal prosecutors charged on Wednesday.
The death of the married mother of three on a Chelsea lobby floor that turned her secret night life into a tabloid sensation followed partying at a bar with TV producer Marc Henry Johnson and a 4:25 a.m. visit to drug dealer James Holder’s apartment, prosecutors said.
The government didn’t charge them with Cerveny’s death, but accused Holder of running a high-volume cocaine business, and said Johnson became an “accessory” to his drug conspiracy by helping drag an unresponsive Cerveny to the lobby to protect the dealer.
“The defendants’ apparent disregard for a victim of this poison is frankly, unimaginable,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. The charges were the result of a joint police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigation.
Johnson, 51, whose career credits include a new HBO show about porn and prostitution called “The Deuce” and the Michael Moore series “The Awful Truth,” was released on a $300,000 bond. He was charged with attempting to distribute cocaine himself on the night of Oct. 4, 2015, in addition to being an accessory
He declined to comment and tried to duck cameramen leaving court. His lawyer Lee Ginsberg said Johnson had felt “awful from the moment that it happened,” and noted that a seven-month investigation ending in an accessory-after-the-fact charge is not typical.
“It’s an unusual set of charges that we’ve just begun looking at,” Ginsberg said.
Holder was detained without bail. DEA Agent Kenneth Louvar said in an affidavit that the government had more than 10 witnesses who would testify to getting cocaine from Holder — nicknamed “Pepsi” — and that he sold more than 5 kilograms from his Chelsea apartment from 2003 till 2015.
An office manager for Cerveny’s husband, dermatologist Dr. Andrew Cerveny, said he would have no comment.
Kiersten Cerveny, 38 at her death, grew up in New Jersey, was named 1995 America Junior Miss, graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and got her medical degree from Tulane University, according to news reports last year.
She married Andrew in 2009, her second marriage, when she was chief of dermatology at Brooklyn Hospital Center. In October, Newsday reported she got rave reviews from patients on Yelp, and neighbors said she jogged with a stroller and taught water ballet at a nearby country club.
In the criminal complaint, she was identified as “Individual 1.” The government said text messages from Johnson indicated he got cocaine from “Pepsi” in the early evening, then met Cerveny and others at a bar, where she was already using cocaine.
Video surveillance showed her and Johnson arriving in a taxi at Holder’s building at 4:25 a.m., and then “hours later” showed Holder and Johnson dragging her “apparently unconscious body” down a hall and leaving her in the vestibule.
Holder left, it said, but Johnson called 911 at 8:30 for an ambulance, without giving his name, or explaining why she needed medical assistance. EMTs took her to a nearby hospital, where she died of acute cocaine and alcohol intoxication.
With Anthony M. DeStefano