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

NEW YORK — 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, 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.

“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.

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.

“They 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.’”

A close friend of Gentili, Ceyenne Doroshow, said news of Gentili’s overdose 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 said. “ 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. I could care less about what they found out. I care more about my girlfriend and her struggle.”

Between the post-funeral drama and the overdose information, Doroshow said she hasn’t had any real time to mourn her friend.

“We need to find a way to protect people now— before we lose more people in this world.” she said. “We can’t really tell people what to do or what not to do.”