New York banana importer gets more prison time for embezzlement
By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Long Island banana importer serving prison terms for engaging in a cocaine distribution scheme and beating his girlfriend was sentenced on Monday to another 5-1/2 years in custody for stealing from his employees’ retirement plan.
Thomas Hoey, owner of the now-bankrupt Long Island Banana Corp, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan following his conviction in March on charges including pension embezzlement and wire fraud. Hoey had sought to have any sentence run concurrently with a prior 12-1/2-year prison term in the drug case. But Engelmayer said in court that only 1-1/2 of the 7-year sentence he imposed could be served at the same time as the public needed to be protected from him. The judge, who also ordered Hoey to forfeit $763,000 and pay nearly $651,000 in restitution, called Hoey a selfish individual who had shown no sign of reform during his time in prison. “Simply put, the public will benefit from you being in prison longer,” Engelmayer said. Prosecutors said Hoey, 48, stole $763,000 from his company’s employee benefit plan from 2009 to 2012 by embezzling almost all of its assets and depositing the funds in corporate accounts. He used the money to pay for company expenses, awarding himself generous raises while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on corporate credit cards for personal travel and entertainment, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Hoey took trips to England, Spain, Mexico and Aruba, spent large sums on fine dining and concerts, and stayed in luxury hotels in Manhattan and Long Island despite having residences in both places. Hoey’s April 2015 drug-related sentence came after he pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to distribute cocaine, including to Kimberly Calo, a woman who died from taking the drug after joining him and another woman in a sex party. In February 2015 Hoey was ordered to serve 16 months to 4 years in prison for beating his girlfriend, Alison Bretherick, in 2012. A state court jury found him guilty of third-degree assault and tampering with evidence in that case. In court on Monday, Hoey said he “fell apart” after the 2009 death of Calo, prompting him to tap his employees’ retirement funds. “I never intended to cheat my employees,” he said. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)