One-time Long Island banana mogul Thomas Hoey will not be reprosecuted on charges of assaulting his girlfriend and tampering with evidence in a 2014 case that marked one in a series of convictions for the businessman, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The decision by the Manhattan district attorney’s office follows an appeals court’s reversal of Hoey’s 1-1/3 to 4-year sentence, which was to follow a total of 18 years in federal prison terms he is serving for drug distribution, obstruction of justice and pension fraud.
Hoey, 39, of Garden City, had been convicted of hitting his girlfriend — whose name Newsday has withheld as a victim of domestic abuse — and then trying to wipe away blood in the hall of her Manhattan apartment building to hide the crime from police.
The district attorney’s office said at a brief hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court that they had concluded the long federal prison terms lessened the need for a retrial, and had consulted with the family of the girlfriend, who refused to testify at trial against Hoey.
Prosecutors relied at trial on a neighbor and family witnesses to prove the case and show a pattern of abuse. The conviction was reversed because the judge decided to allow that evidence at a meeting with lawyers where Hoey wasn’t present, and the appeals court also criticized improper comments in the prosecutor’s summation.
The girlfriend has reconciled with her family and is recovering from substance abuse issues, the district attorney’s office said on Wednesday.
Hoey was not present in court but his lawyer praised the decision to drop the case. “We are grateful the DA’s office elected to dismiss,” James Kousouros said.
In separate cases in Manhattan federal court, Hoey was convicted of ripping off pension funds of workers at his Long Island Banana Co., a produce distributor that declared bankruptcy, and of cocaine distribution and obstruction in a case where a Long Island woman died of an overdose during a sex party in his hotel room.
In addition to eliminating his state sentence, the district attorney’s decision not to try Hoey again could potentially reduce his federal sentences as well because the existence of a state conviction ratcheted up his federal sentencing guidelines.
Although the guidelines are only advisory, Kousouros said he would seek a resentencing in federal court.