Two charged in connection with the death of transgender activist Cecilia Gentili

April 2, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
FILE - Transgender activist Cecilia Gentili poses for a photo at the offices of the Oxford University Press in New York on April 24, 2014. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York condemned the funeral of Gentili, which was held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and drew a large audience on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
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Federal authorities announced the indictment of Michael Kuilan, 44, and Antonio Venti, 52, for their alleged involvement in distributing narcotics that resulted in the death of New York transgender activist Cecilia Gentili. 

The indictment, unsealed Friday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, includes charges of heroin and fentanyl distribution related to Gentili’s death on Feb. 6, as well as unlawful gun possession by Kuilan. Both defendants are currently in custody and were scheduled for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.

“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 U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. 

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“Fentanyl is a public health crisis,” Peace added. “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.”

The authorities emphasized the collaborative effort among law enforcement agencies to address the scourge of illicit drugs in the community. NYPD Commissioner Caban called for continued accountability for drug distributors, praising the partnership with the DEA and the Eastern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office in combating drug-related crimes.

According to court documents, Gentili was found deceased in her home following a 911 call by her partner. Investigations revealed text messages, cell site data, and other evidence linking Venti and Kuilan to the narcotics supplied to Gentili. In addition to the drugs, a search of Kuilan’s apartment in Williamsburg uncovered significant quantities of fentanyl, a handgun, and ammunition.

If convicted, Kuilan and Venti face the possibility of life imprisonment.

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