HBO producer gets year in prison after dermatologist’s death

NEW YORK (AP) — An HBO producer who helped drag an unconscious dermatologist down to the lobby of a New York City apartment building after she overdosed was sentenced to a year in prison Tuesday by a judge who said her life might have been saved if he had immediately called an ambulance rather than trying to protect “your own reputation.”

Marc Henry Johnson, 53, also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service in a program aimed at preventing substance abuse.

Dr. Kiersten Cerveny died of intoxication in October 2015 after she and Johnson consumed drugs and alcohol.

“Your conduct may well have resulted in the death,” U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman told Johnson.

Johnson earlier this year pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory, admitting that he helped drag Cerveny out of the apartment of James Holder and into a vestibule before he called an ambulance and left the scene after directing rescue workers to her.

Holder was sentenced in May to five years in prison after pleading guilty to maintaining a drug distribution house.

Defense attorney Louis Freeman had requested no prison time for Johnson, saying his client was now drug free and incarceration would make it “highly unlikely” Johnson could continue to work on an HBO series, “The Deuce,” that he jointly developed, as well as other projects.

“The Deuce,” starring James Franco, focuses on the rise of the porn industry in New York in the 1970s and ’80s. It airs next month and production on a second season is slated to begin in February. The lawyer said HBO reduced Johnson’s role and kept him off the set during filming after his arrest.

Freeman said in court papers that Johnson’s arrest had in other ways damaged his client’s career, including causing cancellation of his contract to produce a documentary about entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and to develop a one-man show on Rodney King, a performance that went on without him under Spike Lee’s direction.

In addition, the lawyer wrote, three shows Johnson was developing with Montel Williams Enterprises were put on hold because of his arrest.

Before the sentence was announced, the judge enabled the showing of a video of Johnson and Holder dragging Cerveny down a hallway before an ambulance arrived.

Furman told Johnson that if he had not taken steps to protect Holder’s drug operation and “your own reputation … things may have turned out differently.”

The judge said the case demonstrated that calling an ambulance when somebody is seriously hurt is always the right thing to do.

“We are tested in moments of stress and moments of truth,” he said. “You failed the test.”

In a release, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Faced with a choice between helping his long-time drug dealer avoid arrest or helping a woman survive a cocaine overdose, Marc Henry Johnson chose to help the drug dealer. For his callous and illegal choice, Johnson will now join that drug dealer in federal prison.”