A Huntington man, the son of an ex-Islanders player, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the 2011 overdose death of former Rangers player Derek Boogaard, federal prosecutors said.
Jordan Hart, 31, the son of Gerry Hart, a defenseman who played 16 seasons in the NHL, was arrested Tuesday on Long Island by federal DEA agents, prosecutors said.
According to the indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan, Jordan Hart supplied Boogaard, 28, a former Rangers enforcer, with Percocet, a prescription drug containing the narcotic painkiller oxycodone, which fed Boogaard's drug addiction and led to his death.
"In many instances," the drugs sold by Hart to Boogaard came from prescriptions supplied by Oscar Johnson, 59, a physician assistant for a minor league hockey team in Utah for which Hart used to play, according to the indictment.
Sources identified the team as the Utah Grizzlies, for which he played between 2007 and 2009.
For more than two years, Johnson "casually provided Percocet prescriptions" by mail to Hart on Long Island "without once treating or examining that player," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Bharara said that after Hart returned to Long Island, he "filled those prescriptions and sold the corresponding drugs" to Boogaard. "Ultimately, that addiction fueled at least in part by the drugs that Johnson illegally prescribed, and Hart peddled for cash, culminated in Boogaard's tragic overdose death," he said.
Hart is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxy-codone. The charge carries with it a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Hart's attorney, Robert LaRusso, was critical of prosecutors for including in the indictment narrative details of Boogaard's decline and death in a case that did not charge homicide.
LaRusso said prosecutors had no evidence that Boogaard took pills he allegedly got from Hart the night he died and shouldn't have used innuendo to imply something they couldn't prove.
"By alleging drugs were distributed to an individual whose death was caused by alcohol and drugs was to me irrelevant, prejudicial and inappropriate. There was no real reason to include that," LaRusso said.
Jordan Hart pleaded not guilty at arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Michael Dolinger and was released on a $500,000 bond secured by his father's Huntington home. He had no comment leaving court.
Johnson of Salt Lake City, Utah, is charged with 26 counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute oxy-codone. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on each count.
Johnson is also charged with one count of lying to a federal agent, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.
The indictment said Hart began selling the pills to Boogaard in November 2010. Boogaard overdosed on oxy-codone and alcohol in May 2011, about two weeks after his final purchase from Hart, according to the indictment.
Boogaard, who became addicted to prescription painkillers and Ambien while playing for the Minnesota Wild between 2005 and 2010, according to published reports, signed with the Rangers before the 2010-2011 season. He sustained a severe concussion after an on-ice fight in December 2010. The injury caused severe migraine headaches and he never played again.
Boogaard, according to investigators, spent a large portion of his time in his Manhattan apartment with the lights off to cope with the migraine pain and associated symptoms.
According to the indictment, he took substantial quantities of Percocet and Ambien during this time. The Ambien, a sleep aid, had been prescribed by the Rangers, but the Percocet had not.
Boogaard began asking teammates if they had a source for Percocet.
According to the indictment, an unnamed teammate agreed to look for a source and asked Jordan Hart if he would supply Percocet to Boogaard. The Rangers teammate was not named by officials. Sources said the teammate was not charged in the case. Authorities say that Boogaard started to drive from Manhattan to Huntington to purchase the pills from Hart in both cash and by check.
The elder Hart could not be reached.
Boogaard's father, Len, said in a statement: "Every effort to hold accountable those that contributed to my son's addiction and death is commendable."
The younger Hart grew up on Long Island, where he played youth hockey.
With John Riley, Gary Dymski, Arthur Staple and Steve Zipay