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Government urges sentence longer than federal guidelines for LI banana mogul

Thomas Hoey is shown on Jan. 11, 2009

Thomas Hoey is shown on Jan. 11, 2009 in Garden City. Credit: Victor Alcorn

Long Island banana mogul Thomas Hoey Jr. laughed about the overdose death of a woman he provided with cocaine at a sex party and has told Rikers Island inmates he wished they had sex again before she died, a new government sentencing memo alleges.

The memo, filed by federal prosecutors in advance of Hoey's scheduled April 23 sentencing on drug and obstruction of justice charges, argues that the wealthy executive deserves from 14 to 20 years in prison, in excess of federal guidelines.

"While the defendant may try to explain away these comments as mere jailhouse puffery, they are of a piece with his history of total disregard for the interests of anyone other than himself, and sharply undercut his expedient expressions of remorse," prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan.

Hoey, 46, of Garden City, the owner of the Long Island Banana Co. of Lynbrook, was sentenced last month to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison for assaulting his girlfriend. The Lynbrook company, a family-owned produce distributor, has gone into bankruptcy proceedings.

The federal case involves a 2009 sex party at a Manhattan hotel in which Kimberly Calo of Glenwood Landing died of an overdose. Nicole Zobkiw of Wantagh, another partygoer, was later convicted of perjury for lying to a grand jury at Hoey's behest.

Hoey pleaded guilty last year. Prosecutors say they would have been able to prove that after Calo went into convulsions from cocaine, he resisted Zobkiw's efforts to call for medical help.

"The defendant callously watched as Ms. Calo convulsed, foamed at the mouth, turned blue, and died in front of him," prosecutors wrote. "As this was happening, the defendant thought of only one person -- himself."

Prosecutors said Hoey engaged in large-scale cocaine distribution to social acquaintances for five years, many times for sex, revealing that recipients included a teenage baby-sitter for one of his children and "other women in precarious financial circumstances."

Hoey was housed at Rikers Island for his state assault case. Prosecutors said another inmate said Hoey laughed about Calo and told "other inmates that he regretted that he hadn't been able to engage in further sexual conduct with her because of her death."

Zobkiw died of an apparent drug overdose after her perjury conviction. The inmate said Hoey talked about her in denigrating terms, stating in substance that "she got what she deserved," prosecutors alleged.

Michael Lamonsoff, a lawyer handling a civil suit for Calo's family, called Hoey's alleged remarks at Rikers "outrageous and despicable," and said they were "indicative of his callous disregard for human life and his disgusting dehumanization of women."

Eric Franz, a lawyer for Hoey, had no comment on the government's latest allegations. "We will file an appropriate response in court," Franz said.

The U.S. Probation Office, which makes sentencing recommendations to judges, has urged Castel to give Hoey the maximum possible sentence -- 20 years. Hoey's defense lawyers contend that would be inappropriate.

In their sentencing memo, filed the same day last week as the government's, they told Castel that Hoey deserved a significant sentence for his "deplorable" actions, but included letters from Hoey's girlfriend and family members attesting to his good character, and said he was "incredibly remorseful" for the death of Calo.

They also argued that it would be inappropriate to hold Hoey responsible for Calo's death, because Calo was partying before she visited Hoey, and probably died of the combined effects of cocaine and alcohol she had already ingested.

"This was an unfortunate accident," Franz wrote.

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