A Long Island dermatologist who died from a drug overdose in 2015 is not a victim of the cocaine dealer who allegedly supplied her with the drugs, his attorney argued Thursday in federal court.
A prosecution source tells PEOPLE that the convicted dealer, James Holder, was initially scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday but will now learn his fate next Thursday.
Holder has pleaded guilty to maintaining a drug-involved premises after admitting to keeping his apartment as a so-called stash house, but he has not admitted he provided Kiersten Cerveny with the cocaine that ended her life.
On Thursday, lawyer Matthew Kluger reasoned the 38-year-old mother of three died because of her own decisions.
His argument delayed Holder’s sentencing by a week; both Kluger and the prosecution must file briefs by Thursday concerning “whether the victim is entitled to restitution as a crime victim,” the source explains.
According to Kluger, the family Cerveny left behind is not entitled to restitution because she wasn’t legally a victim.
“She was a victim of her own poor choices, she was a victim of decisions she made,” Kluger said, the source confirms. “But to state that she was a victim of Mr. Holder’s apartment … I don’t see the proximate cause.”
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Holder, 30, and Marc Henry Johnson, a 52-year-old HBO producer, had both faced federal drug and conspiracy charges related to Cerveny’s death after the mother was found unresponsive in Holder’s apartment building on the morning of Oct. 4, 2015.
Cerveny died following a night of partying and drug use, authorities have said.
In March, Johnson pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact, admitting he helped drag Cerveny’s body from Holder’s apartment into the building’s hallway.
Investigators have said Johnson and Cerveny spent the night in various New York City bars drinking and snorting cocaine.
After Cerveny’s overdose, Johnson and Holder carried her into the building’s vestibule, leaving her there as they fled the scene. Security cameras caught both men in the act, according to police.
Prosecutors want Holder sentenced to more than 6 years and believe Cerveny’s estate is entitled to restitution because the apartment effectively facilitated her death.
“People can’t use cocaine just anywhere,” prosecutor Daniel Abramowicz said, the source confirms. He added that “it was James Holder who provided that place” and if he hadn’t given Cerveny cocaine, she “could have lived to see another day.”
Kluger could not be reached for comment Friday.
Johnson’s sentencing is scheduled for June.