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Thomas Hoey's alleged abusiveness is subject in banana mogul's assault trial

A cousin of the girlfriend of Long Island Banana Corp. owner Thomas Hoey testified at his assault trial Monday that she began displaying black eyes and bruises on her neck from the time she started dating the wealthy business executive.

Hoey, 46, of Garden City, is jailed on federal charges of supplying the drugs that killed a woman in 2009. In the assault case, the girlfriend he allegedly hit in 2012 has refused to testify against him, but prosecutors are calling relatives to try to show a pattern of abuse.

Christine Pickard, the cousin, described the alleged victim as a talkative, ambitious and athletic Ivy League graduate who quit her job, became withdrawn, and used "caked- on" makeup and tanning to hide physical abuse within months of meeting Hoey in 2008.

"I feel like she had a permanent black eye," Pickard told jurors in state court in Manhattan.

Hoey was charged in March 2012 after the girlfriend's neighbor witnessed the apparent aftermath of an assault and called the NYPD. Police found her bleeding, but she claimed she fell. Newsday does not name victims or alleged victims of domestic violence.

An expert testified that domestic violence victims frequently do not want to cooperate with law enforcement. The judge has let the Manhattan district attorney's office put on evidence of the history of the relationship to try to show the incident was not an accident.

On one occasion, Pickard said, she urged her cousin to get medical attention. "She didn't want to go because they would have to write a report, and he would get in trouble," she testified.

In addition to paying for her cousin's apartment, clothes and a black car to drive her around, Pickard said, Hoey paid for a special cellphone for her to use and would call or text her "nonstop."

Pickard said her cousin once missed a series of calls while working out in her apartment building's exercise room, and told her, "All he asks me to do is pick up the phone when he calls, and I can't even do that right."

In 2010, Pickard testified, she told her cousin she wanted to go to police, and it ended their friendship. "She was angry, she told me I was dead to her," Pickard testified.

On cross-examination, a defense lawyer for Hoey asked Pickard -- single, 37 and eight years older than her cousin -- if she was jealous because she hadn't gone to an Ivy League college, was actually adopted and was not a blood cousin, was single, didn't have a wealthy boyfriend and lost out on dating a cute guy she and her cousin once spotted on the Jersey Shore.

She said she was not.

Hoey also faces charges of tampering with evidence in the assault case. He has been jailed since December on federal charges that he supplied cocaine that killed a woman at a sex party in 2009, and conspired to suborn perjury.

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