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Thomas Hoey, LI’s banana king, wants cocaine evidence excluded

Thomas Hoey is shown on Jan. 11, 2009

Thomas Hoey is shown on Jan. 11, 2009 in Garden City. Credit: Victor Alcorn

Federal prosecutors say they want to use evidence of lavish spending on cocaine, prostitutes and other personal expenses at the upcoming trial of one-time Long Island banana king Thomas Hoey on charges he stole $1 million from his employees’ pension fund.

Hoey, who already is serving time for assaulting his girlfriend and distributing cocaine, wants U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer to exclude the evidence as unfairly prejudicial at his embezzlement trial next month.

But the government, in a new filing this week, says the evidence will help rebut an anticipated defense that Hoey lifted the money from the pension plan as a loan in a good-faith effort to prop up his family business, the Long Island Banana Co.

“While the defendant’s personal use and social distribution of cocaine as well as his spending on prostitutes certainly constitutes illegal activity, it is neither ‘more sensational’ nor ‘more disturbing’ than the charged crimes and will not be deemed unfairly prejudicial,” the government said.

The trial, originally set for February, is now scheduled to begin March 14. Hoey, 47, is serving a 12 1⁄2-year sentence on the cocaine charge, which involved a woman’s overdose death, and will also have to serve 1 1⁄3 to 4 years on a New York state assault conviction.

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