MANHATTAN (CN) – Federal prosecutors filed charges Tuesday against a pair they say supplied hockey “enforcer” Derek Boogaard with painkillers before his overdose.
The indictment takes aim at physician’s assistant Oscar Johnson, 59, and Jordan Hart, 31, a former minor league hockey player who is reportedly the son of Islanders defenseman Gerry Hart.
Though the indictment does not name the minor league team for which Hart played and Johnson provided medical services, the Utah Grizzlies noted that Hart returned to its fold in 2009 after a stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Prosecutors say Johnson wrote Hart medically unnecessary Percocet prescriptions from June 2009 through July 2011, and that Hart sold “some or all” of the oxycodone he obtained from Johnson’s prescriptions to Derek Boogaard.
The sales allegedly occurred between December 2010 and April 2011, during Boogaard’s first and last season with the New York Rangers.
Boogaard overdosed on May 12, 2011, at age 28. An autopsy showed that the 250-pound, 6-foot-7 Canadian suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a kind of dementia that affects individuals who have sustained repeated concussions.
Prosecutors noted that Boogaard was also addicted to Ambien. Celebrated more for his fighting ability than his skating, Boogaard scored only three goals in his six-season career with the Minnesota Wild and then the New York Rangers but was involved in 66 on-ice fights.
Boogaard’s estate noted in a 2013 complaint against the National Hockey League that the Canadian-born athlete had for years battled an addiction to negligently supplied prescription narcotics.
After their arrests Tuesday morning, Hart was scheduled for presentment that afternoon in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger while Johnson was scheduled for presentment in Salt Lake City, Utah. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald will preside over the case in New York.
Johnson worked for the East Coast Hockey League from 2007 through July 2011, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said Hart played for the unnamed team in question during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 ECHL seasons. Though Hart retired from the league at the end of that season, Johnson allegedly wrote him a monthly oxycodone prescription.
From June 2009 to July 2011 – the last month of Johnson’s employment with a West Jordan, Utah, medical group – Johnson wrote Hart 26 prescriptions for Percocet, which contains oxycodone, for a total of 2,920 pills, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said Johnson never treated or examined Hart in person before writing any of those 26 prescriptions.
A medical assistant instead mailed Johnson’s prescriptions to Hart in New York, where all 26 of the prescriptions were filled, according to the indictment.
Boogaard allegedly met Hart through a teammate and regularly traveled to Hart in Huntington, N.Y., to purchase the pills.
Hart faces one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Johnson, of Salt Lake City, Utah, is charged with 26 counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute oxycodone, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The physician’s assistant also faces one count of making a false statement, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Boogaard’s family filed a previous lawsuit against the NHL, hoping to collect the money left on Boogaard’s contract, plus punitive damages, but it was dismissed as untimely last year.
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