Federal prosecutors told a judge Friday that Jordan Hart, the hockey-playing son of a former Islanders standout, should do jail time for illegal possession of painkillers that were sold to former Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard weeks before his overdose death.
One day after public filing of a letter from Hart asking for probation, the government told Manhattan U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald that his imprisonment should be short — no more than 6 months — but was needed to send a message to pro athletes.
“It is important to send a deterrent message to others in the sporting communities in which the defendant and Boogaard both traveled, where trading and abuse of prescription painkillers is often prevalent and very dangerous,” prosecutors said in a letter to Buchwald.
Hart, 33, of Huntington, the son of longtime Islanders defenseman Gerry Hart, became addicted to painkillers while playing minor league hockey. In 2014, he was indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute pain pills, including providing pills to Boogaard in 2011 two weeks before he died from a lethal dose of alcohol and oxycodone.
Prosecutors never charged him with causing the death, but said Hart fed the addiction that ultimately killed Boogaard. In June, Hart was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of a year in prison, with a recommended term of zero to 6 months under federal guidelines.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office has urged Buchwald to let Boogaard’s family speak at the sentencing set for Oct. 6. But Hart has fought it, arguing that Boogaard died from OxyContin, and Hart only provided — and pleaded guilty to possessing — Percocet and Vicodin.
In Friday’s letter, prosecutors said Hart fed his own addiction largely through phony Percocet prescriptions and they didn’t have evidence he ever sold Boogaard Oxycontin. But they said Hart also got painkillers on the street, and didn’t specify what Hart provided Boogaard at their last meeting in return for a $4,000 check.
“Over the course of about six months, the defendant met with Boogaard on multiple occasions to sell pills to him, feeding an addiction that ultimately led to Boogaard’s death in May 2011,” the government wrote.
“The defendant was aware that, like himself, Boogaard had a problem with prescription painkillers. Of course, many individuals bear some responsibility for furthering Derek Boogaard’s downward spiral, but Jordan Hart is one of them — one who fortunately escaped the same fate and is now drug free, and alive.”
Prosecutors said Hart deserved credit for overcoming his addiction and rehabilitating himself before he was indicted in 2014.
But they argued that was why he was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor, and didn’t merit avoiding jail entirely at a time when “illegal opiates are on the rise and are devastating communities nationwide.”
Hart said in his sentencing letter that he was fired from his job as a private wealth manager when he was charged, and now works for an electrical contractor in Florida and consults for a company owned by his father.