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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

Creator of ‘The Wire’ Asks Mercy for Man Charged in Michael K Williams’s Death

The Wire co-creator and producer David Simon is urging a Manhattan judge to show leniency in sentencing the 71-year-old man who sold the fentanyl that resulted in the 2021 death of Simon’s friend, the Wire actor Michael K. Williams.

The 2021 overdose of actor Michael K. Williams, famous for playing a drug-world gunman, stands out as an example of fentanyl’s deadly march. Now, as one man charged in connection with his death faces sentencing, one of Williams’ closest friends wants the case to stand for something else: mercy.

David Simon, co-creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” in which Williams played the universally feared stickup man Omar Little, has written to a Manhattan judge, urging her to grant leniency to the defendant, Carlos Macci, 71.

Simon’s three-page letter was part of a filing by Macci’s lawyer on Thursday to the judge, Ronnie Abrams of U.S. District Court.

Simon noted that Williams, 54, always maintained that he was responsible for himself and that the decision to use or stop using drugs would always be his own — and that attitude, combined with his long-stated opposition to mass incarceration and the drug war, “convinces me that he would want me to write this letter.”

“What happened to Mike is a grievous tragedy,” Simon wrote. “But I know that Michael would look upon the undone and desolate life of Mr. Macci and know two things with certainty: First, that it was Michael who bears the fuller responsibility for what happened.”

And second, Simon continued, “No possible good can come from incarcerating a 71-year-old soul, largely illiterate, who has himself struggled with a lifetime of addiction” and who sold drugs not for profit “but rather as someone caught up in the diaspora of addiction himself.”

“The Wire” was a five-season panorama of the drug trade in Baltimore, where Simon once was a police reporter. It followed narcotics and their attendant corruption from the streets through every municipal institution. Williams’ character made a living by robbing dealers, his presence presaged by an ominously whistled version of “The Farmer in the Dell” and shouts of “Omar’s coming!”

Simon said that during the third season of “The Wire,” Williams quietly acknowledged his struggles with addiction to a producer. “Then, to stay at work — which was, in fact, a stabilizing influence in his life — he readily agreed to let us help him address his drug use, going so far as to seek the constant companionship of a crew member whose job was to assure some distance between Mike and temptation.”

The show ended in 2008, and afterward Williams openly discussed his struggles with drug addiction. Macci is one of four men charged in connection with his death.

The four men have all pleaded guilty, with Macci’s sentencing scheduled for later this month. According to the court filing by his lawyer, Benjamin Zeman, the court’s probation office recommended a sentence of 10 years for Macci, who pleaded guilty in April to agreeing with others to possess and distribute narcotics.

Zeman’s filing asks that Macci, who has been jailed since his arrest in February 2022, receive a sentence of time served, which would be nearly 1 1/2 years.

Zeman said he asked Simon to write on Macci’s behalf because “he’s been such a thoughtful and eloquent voice about what the failure of the war on drugs has wrought, and I knew of his relationship with Mr. Williams and all that Mr. Williams had spoken about this subject during the course of his life.”

Simon, in his letter, called Williams “one of the finest actors with whom I have had the honor to collaborate and one of the most thoughtful, gracious and charitable souls I could ever call a friend.”

“I never failed to see him take responsibility for himself and his decisions,” Simon added.

c.2023 The New York Times Company

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