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LI businessman charged in 2009 drug-related death

A prominent Long Island businessman has been indicted on federal charges of providing cocaine that killed a woman in 2009 and conspiring to suborn perjury and obstruct an investigation into her death.

Thomas Hoey, 45, of Garden City, who heads the Long Island Banana Corp., a regional fruit distributor, was charged as the statute of limitations was about to expire on the Jan. 10, 2009, death of Kim Calo, 41, of Glenwood Landing, during a sex-and-drugs party at a Manhattan hotel.

Hoey was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on Dec. 20 along with a driver, Alejandro Noriega, and Bruce Balaban, a lawyer previously charged in the case. Nicole Zobkiw, 30, of Wantagh, who was at the party, was convicted of perjury last year and is expected to be a key witness against Hoey.

Hoey, who was detained pending trial, and Noriega, who was released on bail, have both pleaded not guilty. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara did not announce the charges last month and had no comment Thursday, but defense lawyer Joseph Conway signaled that his client "vigorously" denied the accusations.

"Thomas Hoey is a respected business owner and a community contributor," Conway said in a statement. "The charges are baseless and he looks forward to being exonerated."

In a Monday letter urging U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel to release Hoey on a $7 million bail package, Conway said Zobkiw is unreliable as a convicted perjurer and argued that Calo's death couldn't be traced to the cocaine Hoey allegedly provided because she had a mixture of drugs and alcohol.

He also said that the case was being "pursued solely" because Calo's brother is a former Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor.

Zobkiw and Calo allegedly visited Hoey to party at a suite at The Kitano, a luxury hotel. Hoey, according to a police witness at Zobkiw's trial, supplied cocaine and had sex with both women, then delayed calling 911 when Calo began convulsing.

Zobkiw, a receptionist, was convicted of lying about the incident when she was called before a federal grand jury in 2011. Her lawyer said she was encouraged to lie about Hoey's involvement by Balaban, who visited her but never said who he was working for.

The new indictment charges Hoey with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, the use of which "resulted in" the death of Calo -- an allegation that raises the minimum sentence from 10 years to 20 years.

Hoey and Balaban are also charged with three counts of obstructing the investigation, and Noriega, of Hempstead, is charged with one of those counts.

Relatives of Calo, a personal fitness trainer and mother of two, sued Hoey after her death five years ago but have been thwarted by legal delay tactics, said a lawyer for the family.

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