Jordan Hart, the son of a onetime Islanders hockey player, doesn’t want the judge who will sentence him on federal drug charges next month to hear from the family of the late New York Rangers enforcer and overdose victim Derek Boogaard.
Hart sold painkillers to Boogaard, 28, two weeks before Boogaard’s 2011 death from a combination of alcohol and oxycodone, according to court filings, but was never charged with selling the drugs that killed him and ended up pleading only to a possession misdemeanor. Boogaard’s family has asked to appear at Hart’s Oct. 6 sentencing.
“Mr. Boogaard’s death was tragic,” Hart’s lawyers wrote in a letter to Manhattan U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald opposing the request that was filed late Thursday. “Mr. Boogaard, however, was not a victim of Mr. Hart’s misdemeanor possession of prescription drugs.”
Hart, 33, of Huntington, was charged in 2014 with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone in an indictment that prominently featured the sales to Boogaard, and prosecutors said that by supplying oxycodone he fed the addiction that led to Boogaard’s death.
Prosecutors, in a letter to Buchwald earlier this month, said that although technically Boogaard’s family did not qualify as victims who would have the right to speak at Hart’s sentencing, they thought it would be “helpful” for the judge to hear from the family.
Hart, the son of former Islanders defenseman Gerry Hart, has said he became addicted to painkillers as a result of an injury he suffered as a minor league hockey player. In June, he was allowed to plead to possession, and faces a maximum of a year in prison.
In the letter to Buchwald, Hart’s lawyers acknowledged that Hart sold pills to Boogaard, but they argued that despite the insinuation of the indictment, the two painkillers that Hart admitted possessing — Vicodin and Percocet — would have left traces of acetaminophen, and Boogaard’s toxicology report showed none.
“Pills Mr. Hart provided to Mr. Boogaard did not cause Mr. Boogaard’s death,” lawyers Nelson Boxer and Philip Pilmar wrote.
“Mr. Hart has never met any of Mr. Boogaard’s family members,” they added, “and while undoubtedly Mr. Boogaard’s family can speak to Derek Boogaard’s addiction and tragic death . . . evidence from Mr. Boogaard’s family should have no bearing on Mr. Hart’s background, character or conduct for consideration in imposing sentence.”
Boxer declined to comment on Hart’s position. A lawyer for the Boogaard family, which has been trying to sue the NHL over his death, also declined to comment.
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office has never explained why more serious charges against Hart were dropped, also declined to comment.