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

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Two men have been charged with distributing the fentanyl-laced heroin that killed transgender advocate, author and actor Cecilia Gentili two months ago, officials said Monday.

Cops arrested Michael Kuilan, 44, of Brooklyn and Antonio Venti, 52, of West Babylon, L.I., on Monday, identifying the pair as dealers who allegedly sold Gentili the deadly drug cocktail.

Gentili, 52, a prominent activist and leader of New York’s transgender community whose funeral service in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral angered Catholic worshipers, was found dead on Feb. 6 by cops responding to a 911 call at her Brooklyn home. Authorities said she died from the combined effects of fentanyl, heroin, xylazine and cocaine.

According to an indictment, text messages, cell site data, and other evidence revealed that Venti sold the fentanyl and heroin mixture to Gentili on Feb. 5, and Kuilan supplied Venti with the lethal narcotics.

Kuilan was also charged with unlawful gun possession.

“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 in a statement. “[Monday], the alleged perpetrators who sold the deadly dose of drugs to Gentili have been arrested.

“Fentanyl is a public health crisis.” Peace said. “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.”

Gentili’s life — and death — were steeped in controversy.

Her Feb. 15 funeral was held at Manhattan’s venerable St. Patrick’s Cathedral, much to the chagrin of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who denounced the ceremony and requested a rare Mass of Reparation to pray for forgiveness for the funeral.

“[Church officials] didn’t know the background of this woman who had died,” the cardinal said at the time. “All they know is somebody called and said, ‘Our dear friend died. We’d love to have the funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.’”

The Catholic Church has long condemned queer and transgender people, but in October the Vatican announced trans people would be allowed to be baptized and serve as godparents in certain situations.

After Gentili’s funeral, though, outraged Catholics took to social media to decry what they believed to be scantily clad mourners and people cursing at the podium while eulogizing Gentili.

Mourners also playfully dubbed the woman a “saint” and changed the lyrics of certain Catholic songs as a lighthearted tribute to her.

A close friend of Gentili, Ceyenne Doroshow, said news of Gentili’s fatal overdose going public just added insult to injury.

Doroshow said she tried to get law enforcement to seal the record on how her friend died to protect her family and loved ones.

“I did try to have it sealed, to protect her husband, to protect her family, to protect everyone,” Doroshow told The News. “I feel it’s nobody’s personal business how she died. I didn’t want her to be tarnished by any of this. We’re all human. I’m more concerned that her legacy gets protected.”

When Gentili’s longtime partner, Peter Scotto, announced her death, he did not specify a cause.

As an activist, Gentili lobbied for the passage of the New York State Gender Expression and Discrimination Act, which became law in 2019. She was also an actress on the critically acclaimed television show “Pose.”

Kuilan and Venti were arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court on charges that could put them in prison for 20 years to life.

Kulian, who lives with his grandmother, wasn’t given a chance to turn himself in, said his mother, Elizabeth Pabellon.

“They broke my mother’s door down,” Pabellon said.

Venti’s lawyer, John Turco, in a note to reporters, said he appreciated Gentili’s activism.

“Transgender issues have touched me personally and professionally,” Turco said. “I’ve been a fierce advocate. Cecilia Gentili will never be forgotten. We mourn her loss and our hearts go out to her family.”