April 18, 2024

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Two men have been indicted for distributing the heroin and fentanyl that caused the February death of Pose star and transgender activist Cecilia Gentili.

The four-count indictment accuses Michael Kuilan, 44, of Brooklyn and Antonio Venti, 52, of West Babylon, New York, with supplying the drugs that killed Gentili on February 6. The indictments were announced today by New York federal prosecutors.

The announcement by law enforcement officials today was the first time Gentili’s cause of death was disclosed.

“Cecilia Gentili, a prominent activist and leader of the New York transgender community was tragically poisoned in her Brooklyn home from fentanyl-laced heroin,” said Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in the statement. “Today, the alleged perpetrators who sold the deadly dose of drugs to Gentili have been arrested. Fentanyl is a public health crisis. Our Office will spare no effort in the pursuit of justice for the many New Yorkers who have lost loved ones due to this lethal drug.”

According to the indictment and court documents, police were called to Gentili’s Brooklyn apartment by her longtime partner on February 6. The Pose star was found dead in her bedroom, with officials now saying the cause of death was “the combined effect of fentanyl, heroin, xylazine, and cocaine.”

Text messages, cell site data, and other evidence revealed that Venti sold the fentanyl and heroin mixture to Gentili on February 5, and Kuilan had supplied Venti with the lethal narcotics.

In a search of the Kuilan’s apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, police found what the indictment describes as “hundreds of baggies of fentanyl, a handgun, and ammunition.” In addition to the drug charges, Kuilan is also charged with unlawful gun possession.

According to the indictment, Gentili returned to her apartment on the evening of February 5 after purchasing the drugs from Venti. After telling her partner that she felt ill, Gentili went to bed and was found dead there the following morning.

Gentili’s death prompted an outpouring of condolences and tributes. Pose co-star Dominique Jackson said that she left a legacy of “movement, love and compassion unapologetic and true.” Gentili’s funeral at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral was attended by, among many others, Pose co-stars Billy Porter and Indya Moore. (The New York Archdiocese later said it had been duped into allowing the cathedral funeral, releasing a statement saying it “had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way.”)

In today’s announcement, DEA Special Agent Frank Tarentino said, “The death of Ms. Gentile is a reminder of the dangers that illicit drugs have on all communities, including the LGBTQ+ community.”

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