Jordan Hart, longtime Islander Gerry Hart’s hockey-playing son who was charged in 2014 with supplying painkillers to the late New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, was allowed Thursday to plead to a drug possession misdemeanor.
Under a plea deal, Hart, 33, of Huntington, faces a maximum of 1 year in prison and a likely sentence of zero to six months for possession of oxycodone and hydrocodone, active ingredients in Percocet and Vicodin, without a legal prescription.
The former minor leaguer told Manhattan U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald that he began using painkillers when he was prescribed Percocet in 2009 after a shoulder injury while playing for the Utah Grizzlies.
“I became addicted,” he said, explaining that eventually monthly prescriptions became inadequate to satisfy him, and he started using painkillers without a prescription. “I did know that it was against the law to accept those drugs.”
The allegations in the 2014 indictment — accusing Hart of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and alleging that he supplied Boogaard with painkillers prior to his overdose death in 2011 — never came up. He faced up to 20 years on that charge.
The government said then that Boogaard met Hart and wrote him a $4,000 check to buy prescription drugs on April 29, 2011, in New York, and died in Minneapolis on May 13, 2011, of mixed alcohol and oxycodone toxicity after he “consumed one of the painkillers he had brought from New York” and went out drinking.
Hart was never accused of supplying the particular drugs that killed Boogaard, but in 2014 Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release that Boogaard’s addiction “fueled at least in part by the drugs that … Hart peddled for cash, culminated in Boogaard’s tragic overdose death.”
After the plea hearing Thursday, a spokesman for Bharara declined to comment on why the more serious charges were dropped. Hart’s lawyer, Nelson Boxer, also declined to comment.
Last year, a second Hart lawyer, Robert LaRusso, told Buchwald that Hart was seeking a “deferred prosecution agreement” from the government that might allow him to escape any criminal record. Boxer declined to comment on why that approach fell through.
Hart was charged along with Oscar Johnson, a physician’s assistant for the Utah team who allegedly kept sending Percocet prescriptions to Hart by mail after he returned to Long Island.
Johnson reached an agreement months ago to plead guilty to a felony, possession with intent to distribute, said his Utah lawyer, Nathan Crane. Crane declined to comment on whether that agreement will be changed in light of Hart’s deal.
Buchwald set Hart’s sentencing for Oct. 6.