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Thomas Hoey, LI banana mogul, found guilty of assault on girlfriend

Wealthy Long Island banana businessman Thomas Hoey was convicted Wednesday of assaulting his girlfriend, despite her insistence that she wasn't attacked and her failure to appear as a witness for either side at a two-week trial in state court in Manhattan.

In an uncommon tactic, prosecutors called the girlfriend's relatives and a domestic violence expert to prove she was covering for Hoey. But afterward, the woman -- a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer -- was still angry about the prosecution.

"I absolutely disagree," she said in a brief interview, accompanied by Hoey's sister and lawyer. "I'm not a victim. I never was a victim. I should have a say on whether I press charges or not." Newsday does not name alleged victims of domestic violence.

Hoey, 46, of Garden City, the owner of Long Island Banana Corp., a regional produce distributor, is in jail awaiting trial on separate federal charges that he supplied cocaine that killed a woman at a 2009 sex party and persuaded someone to commit perjury.

In the state case, Hoey, who is married, was accused of attacking the girlfriend in 2012 in her Upper East Side apartment after a neighbor heard her whimpering and saw her bleeding and called police. Hoey also was convicted of evidence tampering for cleaning up blood.

He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison. Although the girlfriend said she still supports Hoey and was "disappointed" by the verdict, prosecutors told Judge Dan Fitzgerald they will seek an order of protection keeping Hoey away from her if he is released.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., in a statement, said the case was the latest example of "evidence-based" prosecutions done without victim testimony, which his office has increasingly pursued since 2009.

"The victim was beaten, never disclosed the abuse to law enforcement and sat through the trial surrounded by the defendant's family," Vance said. "We strongly believe that a victim does not bear the burden of prosecuting his or her abuser."

Hoey's attorney, Joseph Conway of Mineola, said he planned to appeal. "It's a case where the evidence does not match the verdict," he told reporters.

At trial, the girlfriend watched from the audience as her cousin and father testified Hoey showered her with money from the time they met in 2008, and he obsessively controlled her and she showed repeated signs of abuse.

Her father was in court when the verdict was read, sitting 10 yards from his daughter, but they never spoke. Afterward, he declined to comment. The girlfriend wouldn't comment on her father, and said she had nothing to do with the cousin anymore.

Hoey's sister Yolanda said she believed her brother was unfairly prosecuted because the woman who died in the 2009 drug incident at a Manhattan hotel was the sister of a Long Island Drug Enforcement Administration official who pressured prosecutors.

She said the hounding was unfair to her brother, a onetime hospital board member and generous charitable donor on Long Island. "He's a pillar of the community," she said.

Long Island Banana, a company run by Hoey's father before him, filed for bankruptcy protection last month, but Yolanda Hoey said the family expects it to emerge as a viable business.

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