Our team of wrongful death attorneys recently learned that Thomas Hoey Jr., a former millionaire nicknamed “The Banana King” for his years at the helm of a now bankrupt importation business, was sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after pleading guilty to distributing cocaine over a five year period. Mr. Hoey’s criminal distribution of drugs came to light when he provided cocaine to Ms. Kim Calo which resulted in her death.
What Happened In 2013?
In December of 2013, Mr. Hoey was indicted on numerous federal charges including distribution of narcotics resulting in death. The Honorable P. Kevin Castel sentenced Mr. Hoey to 151 months in federal prison (approximately 12.5 years), followed by 3 years of supervised probation and issued a fine of $250,000 to be paid within 120 days of the judgment.
Ms. Calo died in January of 2009 after ingesting cocaine provided by Mr. Hoey. Ms. Calo suffered a negative reaction to the cocaine and collapsed, foaming at the mouth. A companion, Nicole Zobkiw, who had introduced Ms. Calo to Hoey, attempted to call for help.
Mr. Hoey blocked Ms. Zobkiw from calling 911 and further interfered with attempts to save Ms. Calo. Mr. Hoey additionally instructed an employee of his, Alejandro Noriega, to remove any evidence of wrongdoing from the hotel room. Mr. Noreiga was subsequently indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and pled guilty.
In the aftermath of Ms. Calo’s death, Mr. Hoey attempted to obstruct law enforcement investigations by intimidating witnesses through the use of a drug-addicted lawyer. The lawyer coaxed Ms. Zobkiw to give perjured testimony before a grand jury convened to investigate the death of Ms. Calo.
The attorney subsequently pled guilty to a federal indictment for his role and is serving a 48 – month prison sentence. After a federal trial, Ms. Zobkiw was convicted of giving perjured testimony as part of the cover-up of Ms. Calo’s death, but passed away prior to sentencing.
During today’s sentencing, Judge Castel described Mr. Hoey as self-absorbed and self-pitying. He stated that Mr. Hoey used his considerable wealth to acquire cocaine, which he then used to prey on women. In addressing Hoey’s insistence that he was the victim of bad circumstances on the night of Ms. Calo’s death, Judge Castel stated that such an argument was “a myth” since Mr. Hoey’s drug-fueled lifestyle had gone on for years before that fateful night.
Why Are Ms. Calo’s Family Suing?
Several of Ms. Calo’s surviving family members were present at the sentencing. Her siblings expressed relief that criminal justice has been served upon Mr. Hoey for the wrongful death of their sister. However, civil justice for Ms. Calo’s family remains unfinished. The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC represents the estate of Ms. Calo.
Following the sentencing, Michael S. Lamonsoff stated, “for years Mr. Hoey has used his money and privilege to avoid criminal and civil responsibility for the death of Kim Calo. Today’s sentencing puts an end to his criminal evasion of government prosecution. However, Mr. Hoey’s civil responsibility to Kim’s family continues. We are resolute in our efforts to hold him fully accountable. The fight is not over.”
The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff represents the families of numerous victims of wrongful death and negligent interference with rescuers.
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