Thursday, June 20, 2024

‘The Wire’ Creator Urges Leniency for Elderly Drug Dealer Guilty of Killing Actor Michael K. Williams

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David Simon, the creator of acclaimed crime drama The Wire, is urging a federal judge to show leniency for an elderly drug runner whose fentanyl-laced heroin led to the September 2021 overdose death of actor Michael K. Williams.

Simon is a longtime crime journalist and noted showrunner behind multiple television dramas. In The Wire, Williams was cast as one of the show’s most beloved characters, Omar Little.

In a letter to U.S. District Court Justice Ronnie Abrahams, Simon wrote that his friend’s death is, like the show he created, the result of “the tragic American diaspora that is the drug war.” Simon continued: “What happened to Mike is a grievous tragedy and a tragic abbreviation of human potential.” Williams himself, “believed in redemption,” he added, and “fought hard for his own.”

The letter was written on behalf of Carlos “Carlito” Macci, now 72, who federal prosecutors say was a dealer for a Brooklyn narco outfit eerily similar to the drug crews who engaged in a never-ending and unfettered fight for turf on Baltimore’s streets over five seasons of HBO’s The Wire.

Williams perfected the role of Omar, an openly gay stick-up artist who hid a 12-gauge shotgun under his trench coat and carried himself with a foreboding menace so palpable the corner boys in the Baltimore bricks warned the streets he was lurking with a familiar bellow: “Omar’s Comin!”

The 54-year-old actor spoke openly about his struggles with addiction, the constant state of what he called “teetering on that edge,” between sobriety and relapse.

Williams was in a relapse on September 5, 2021, when he drove to Williamsburg where he was surveilled by a security camera copping drugs from “the DTO,” a trafficking crew NYPD detectives say were notorious for selling fentanyl-laced heroin, stashed in trash cans and doled out in hand-to-hand sales by corner dealers in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“Despite knowing that Williams died after being sold the DTO’s product, the DTO has continued to sell fentanyl-lace heroin, in broad daylight, amidst residential apartment buildings,” an NYPD detective wrote in an affidavit seeking an arrest warrant, contained in a complaint against Macci and two other convicted dealers unsealed after their arrest in February 2022.

Macci pleaded guilty to federal trafficking charges in April. Simon’s letter was submitted by his attorneys in a sentencing report that raises the question, “What is appropriate [jail time] for a seventy-two-year-old man with unaddressed and untreated intellectual disorders?,” that led him to spend much of his life behind bars.

“We are all complicit in the failure of the war on drugs, but until we speak loudly about this catastrophe the more likely it is that the disaster will continue,” wrote attorney Benjamin Zeman.

Simon argues in his letter that Williams himself would have wanted Macci to have a second chance. “The reality is… Drugs won the war on drugs. Purdue Pharma won the war on drugs. The Sackler family won the war on drugs. Carlos Macci, Michael K. Williams, and the rest of us lost.”

A link to the full text of a letter seeking leniency for a defendant convicted of federal narcotics violations in the death of my friend and colleague Michael K. Williams, as referenced in a NYT article today:

— David Simon (@AoDespair) July 7, 2023

Macci’s sentencing hearing is slated for a Brooklyn federal courtroom on July 20.

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