Robert de Niro’s Grandson Died From Drug Overdose: Medical Examiner

Robert de Niro’s Grandson Died From Drug Overdose: Medical Examiner
Actor Robert DeNiro speaks during the Tribeca Festival Opening Night Reception at Tribeca Grill in New York on June 7, 2023. (Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)

Leandro De Niro Rodriguez, a grandson of American actor Robert De Niro, died last month after overdosing on a lethal combination of illicit drugs, New York City’s chief medical examiner confirmed on Tuesday.

Mr. Rodriguez’s cause of death was due to the toxic effects of fentanyl, bromazolam, alprazolam, 7-aminoclonazepam, ketamine, and cocaine, according to the medical examiner, TMZ reported. His manner of death was ruled an accidental overdose.

Mr. De Niro’s 19-year-old grandson was found dead in a New York apartment in early July.

Authorities said at the time that a male was found unconscious and unresponsive at a Wall Street address that houses the Cipriani Club Residences. He was pronounced deceased by emergency services on the scene.

Sofia Haley Marks, 20, allegedly sold the drugs that led to Mr. Rodriguez’s death, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on July 14. She was arrested on three federal narcotics charges in mid-July and agreed during a court appearance in Manhattan to remain behind bars until she requests bail at a later date.

Prosecutors said at the time they would oppose a request for her release.

Mr. Rodriguez’s official cause of death lines up with what his mother, Drena De Niro, said in an Instagram post days after her son’s death, responding to a comment to her post by writing that “someone sold him fentanyl-laced pills that they knew were laced yet still sold them to him.”

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro (L) and his daughter Drena De Niro appear at the 20th annual Hollywood Film Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2016. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

In a post on Aug. 9 a day after the release of Mr. Rodriguez’s official cause of death, his mother expressed gratitude for the “outpouring of love and understanding” her family has received over her son’s untimely death.

“However, there’s been a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of facts that I as his mother can not sit by and not speak up about,” Ms. De Niro noted.

“I would like to keep the comments open in respect to our friends … and others who’ve lost their kids to this disease and others who might get some kind of comfort from this and want to share but idiocy and mean spiritedness won’t be tolerated as it’s too sensitive and painful of a situation for myself and Leo’s friends and family,” she continued. “Please keep it respectful.”

Fentanyl Crisis

In a statement in mid-July, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that at least one of the fake oxycodone pills sold by Ms. Marks was “taken by a teenager who subsequently died of a suspected overdose.”

Mr. Williams said Ms. Marks’s arrest “was critical because, as we allege, Marks knew the pills could kill, and she continued selling them anyway.”

At the hearing, the U.S. attorney said fentanyl was now the primary killer of Americans from ages 18 to 49. An estimated 109,680 people died from drug overdoses in 2022, including about 75,000 from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

“More than cancer, car accidents, or gun violence. It is a law enforcement crisis and a public health crisis. And we are doing everything we can to stop it,” he said.

Like his famous grandfather, Mr. Rodriguez was an actor who had appeared with his mother in projects including Bradley Cooper’s 2018 remake of “A Star is Born.”

Mr. De Niro said in a statement after his grandson’s death that he was “deeply distressed by the passing of my beloved grandson Leo.”

“We’re greatly appreciative of the condolences from everyone. We ask that we please be given privacy to grieve our loss of Leo,” the actor said.

Ms. De Niro, 51, is the oldest of Mr. De Niro’s children. The 79-year-old actor adopted her when he married her mother, Diahnne Abbott, his first wife. She is an actor with roles in “Joy,” “The Intern” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” among a long list of other credits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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