Former Long Island banana kingpin Thomas Hoey Jr. was ordered to serve 5 1/2 years in prison for pension fraud on top of a 12 1/2-year drug sentence on Monday by a federal judge who scorned him as “self absorbed, self pitying, and selfish.”
Hoey had asked for leniency and a sentence for stealing $750,000 in worker retirement money that would run concurrently with time he is already serving, but Manhattan U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer bluntly told him that wasn’t in the cards.
“You put your interest in satisfying your appetites first,” the judge told Hoey, 48, of Garden City. “ . . . It is not clear any sentence I impose will get you to conform your behavior to the law. Your track record suggests otherwise.”
Hoey received the earlier 12 1/2-year prison term for drug distribution and obstruction of justice in a case where Kim Calo of Glenwood Landing died of a cocaine overdose during a sex party in his hotel room. He allegedly delayed getting her medical help.
He also faces a 1 1/3- to 4-year consecutive state sentence for a state court conviction of assaulting his girlfriend and evidence tampering. Engelmayer sentenced him to 7 years altogether in the pension case, with 5 1/2 years running consecutively.
Back to back to back, the three sentences add up to nearly 20 years. Engelmayer also issued a forfeiture order for $763,000. Hoey’s business, produce distributor Long Island Banana Co., is now defunct.
Hoey’s lawyer and supporters had argued in letters to the judge that he took worker retirement money to try to rescue the business, intended to repay it, and used bad judgment because he was overcome by grief at Calo’s death in 2009.
“I just fell apart,” he told Engelmayer in his personal plea for leniency on Monday.
“I want to apologize to the court, Your Honor, the prosecutors, my employees, my family,” he said. “I never intended to cheat my employees. I had hoped to repay them. . . . It’s ruined my life, my family and my business.”
But the judge said Hoey was “deluding” himself with “audaciously false” rationalizations, and agreed with prosecutors that if he wanted to make it up to his employees, he wouldn’t have used the money to subsidize a lavish lifestyle.
“Instead of spending the money on nightclubs, travel . . . and on casinos, strip clubs, mistresses and cocaine, you would have been doing everything you could to replenish the retirement funds,” Engelmayer said.
After the sentencing, defense lawyer Dominic Amorosa said he would file an appeal, and also referenced concerns of Hoey and his family that he was prosecuted more vigorously because Calo’s brother had been a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
“We’re very disappointed,” Amorosa said. “We think it was too harsh.”