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LI banana mogul sentenced to 151 months in prison

Thomas Hoey is shown on Jan. 11, 2009

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

A federal judge Thursday lambasted Long Island banana company executive Thomas Hoey Jr. as "callous" and "self-absorbed" before giving him 151 months in prison for distributing cocaine that led to a woman's overdose death at a 2009 Manhattan sex party.

U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel blamed Hoey's drugs, and resistance to getting help, for the death of Kim Calo of Glenwood Landing, and said his efforts to cover it up led to criminal convictions for another woman at the party, Hoey's driver and a lawyer.

"His callous and indifferent reaction to the fate of a person who he had given cocaine to sealed her fate," Castel said to the Long Island Banana Co. owner. "Hoey was not going to take the chance that his cocaine-based lifestyle would be exposed."

Prosecutors said Hoey, 47, of Garden City, had used his wealth and drugs to procure women and sex for years. When Calo began foaming at the mouth in his suite at the Kitano Hotel, they said, he insisted she didn't need help, and then tried to hide his role.

He pleaded guilty to drug distribution and obstructing justice. Last month, Hoey was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison for beating up his girlfriend. He also faces charges that he stole employee pension funds, and his company, founded by his grandfather, is in bankruptcy.

Although the judge ordered that his federal and state sentences be served consecutively, the 151 months was not as tough as requested by prosecutors or the federal probation office, which urged the maximum of 20 years.

It also was a letdown for relatives of Calo, a mother of two whose brother, former Drug Enforcement Administration official Arthur Anderson, spoke emotionally at the sentencing, warning that Hoey's pattern of behavior was an ongoing threat to vulnerable women.

"Every day this man is out, he's going to continue his operation," Anderson said. "Every day he's in jail is a day he will not hurt another woman."

Nicole Zobkiw, the other woman at the sex party, was later convicted of perjury at Hoey's behest, and subsequently died of an apparent drug overdose. "Thomas Hoey is a cold, heartless man who preys on the weak," her mother wrote in a letter to Castel.

"I am a little disappointed," said Calo's sister, Carol Sayre, after the sentencing. "I was hoping it was going to be a little bit more, up to 20 years."

Hoey cried, sniffled and used tissues as he tried to keep his composure during a lengthy plea to Castel that ranged from his election as class president in elementary school, to charity work for Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream and the Little Sisters of the Poor, to his regret for Calo's death. "I ask no sympathy," he added, after he described the pain of seeing his family's fruit business flounder, and the hardships of prison life. "I hope it offers those who have suffered some comfort, knowing that I am in hell."

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