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Entries in John Goodman (7)

Friday
May112012

Polo Tycoon John Goodman Sentenced to 16 Years

Hemera/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Polo tycoon John Goodman was sentenced to 16 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 by a Florida judge Friday for the drunk driving death of 23-year-old Scott Wilson.

Goodman's Bentley slammed into Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, an engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

Goodman, 48, also made headlines by adopting his girlfriend in an attempt to preserve part of his fortune for her while negotiating a civil suit settlement.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March.

Goodman, the multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, claimed in court that his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash. Goodman also left the scene of the accident without calling 911.

On Thursday, State Attorney Ellen Roberts filed the state's sentencing memorandum, asking that Goodman be sentenced to 20 years in prison. The maximum sentence was 30 years.

"What Goodman allegedly did for polo, maybe Scott Wilson would have done for science. The world will never know because of Goodman's sense of self preservation," Roberts wrote. "Scott's family will never know the answer to the rhetorical question ... what if Goodman had tried to save Scott?"

"[Goodman] called someone to help him out of this mess," she wrote, referring to the phone calls Goodman made after the accident, instead of calling 911. "He gave absolutley no thought to Scott Wilson who ever so slowly was being deprived of oxygen trapped upside down in his car in that dirty canal. He took his last breath trapped in his car which was rammed into the canal by Goodman."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May072012

Florida Polo Tycoon John Goodman Denied First Motion for New Trial

Hemera/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A Florida judge denied polo tycoon John Goodman's first motion for a new trial Monday, but has not yet decided on a second request for a new trial, which hinges on a juror saying that he conducted an at-home drinking experiment related to the trial during deliberations.

Goodman's Bentley slammed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, a 23-year-old engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

Goodman's defense team had filed a motion for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct in April.

An alternate juror, Ruby Delano, reported the alleged instances of misconduct to Goodman's lawyers, saying "it was clear" to her the jurors had made up their minds before the end of the trial.

The court conducted interviews with all eight jurors from the case -- six jurors who served and two alternates -- before ruling Monday that there was no misconduct.

"Based on the testimony of the jurors during the juror interviews, each of which was conducted individually and out of the presence of the other jurors, this Court finds that no improper pre-deliberations took place," Florida Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath wrote in his decision.

Colbath wrote that only one juror who deliberated, Michael St. John, said that he felt jurors had made up their mind before deliberations. But Colbath decided that St. John's comments were not enough for a misconduct ruling.

"To allow such decisions to be attacked months or even years after the close of a case simply because a juror experiences post-verdict regret would open our trial system to a virtual onslaught of attacks from dissatisfied parties and jurors," Colbath wrote.

Goodman, the multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, claimed in court that his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash, according to prosecutors. Goodman also fled the scene of the accident, authorities said.

On Friday, Goodman's defense team filed another motion for a new trial, this time based on a 33-page book written and published by juror Dennis DeMartin. The book is available on Amazon.com for $9.99. It is number 107,780 on the best-sellers list.

The book is called Believing in the Truth, and attorneys say DeMartin "engaged in blatantly improper and thoroughly disabling conduct" by writing about a trial-related drinking experiment he said he conducted while in the midst of jury deliberations, according to the motion for a new trial.

"It was bothering me that if there was proof that if Mr. Goodman only had 3 or 4 drinks, how drunk would he be? How drunk would I be? I decided to see," DeMartin wrote. A copy of the book's text was submitted as evidence with the motion for a new trial. DeMartin drank three vodka tonics over the course of an hour and went out in his apartment complex for a walk. He said he was "so confused" that he eventually went home and went to bed. He wrote that he was relieved when he woke up the next morning.

"The question in my mind the night before was answered to me," he wrote. "Even if a person is not drunk, 3 or 4 drinks would make it impossible to operate a vehicle. I got dressed and was in a fine frame of mind to go to deliberate the evidence we had."

Defense attorneys are calling for a new trial based on DeMartin having admitted that he conducted the experiment in violation of court rules.

Court transcripts show at least two instances when jurors were told they were prohibited from conducting any of their own research or investigating.

Defense attorneys wrote in the motion that they would begin contacting the jury members on Wednesday to investigate how DeMartin's book might have influenced deliberations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Polo Tycoon John Goodman in $46 Million Settlement for DUI Death

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Convicted polo tycoon John Goodman agreed to a $46 million settlement with the parents of 23-year-old Scott Wilson who died in a drunken driving accident perpetrated by Goodman, according to court documents.

Lili and William Wilson, Scott Wilson's parents, will each receive $23 million in the settlement, the same age their son was when he was killed.

All parties involved had previously been tight-lipped about the settlement amount in the civil suit over the crash after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate in the civil suit.

The amount was disclosed in a motion for bond filed Wednesday.

The attorneys filed the motion in hopes of being able to get Goodman out of prison pending his appeal and the outcome of his motion for a new trial. Earlier this week, Goodman's attorneys filed a motion for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March. He could face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced April 30.

Goodman's Bentley slammed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, a 23-year-old engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

The multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach claimed his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.

Attorneys for both Lili and William Wilson did not respond to ABC News requests for comment Friday.

But Christian Searcy, Lili Wilson's attorney, told the Palm Beach Post that the money did not come from Goodman's fortune, but, rather, from insurance companies. He also noted that $6 million of the settlement came from The Player's Club, the restaurant where Goodman had been drinking before the crash.

The motion filed Monday in a Palm Beach County court, asked for a new trial or for Goodman's convictions to be overturned.

In the motion, an alternate juror reported the alleged instances of misconduct to Goodman's lawyers, saying "it was clear" to her the jurors had made up their minds before the end of the trial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr162012

Polo Tycoon's Lawyer Alleges Juror Misconduct in John Goodman Conviction

Hemera/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Attorneys for convicted polo tycoon John Goodman filed a motion Monday for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct, according to documents obtained by ABC News.

An alternate juror reported the alleged instances of misconduct to Goodman's lawyers, saying "it was clear" to her the jurors had made up their minds before the end of the trial.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March. He could face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced April 30.

Goodman's Bentley slammed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, a 23-year-old engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

The multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach claimed his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.

The motion, filed Monday in a Palm Beach County court, asks for a new trial or for Goodman's convictions to be overturned.

"The defendant bases these requests on several strains of jury misconduct that were recently reported to counsel, unsolicited, by an alternate juror," according to the motion.

The defense claims that jurors "repeatedly disobeyed their oaths and instructions from the court" in several ways, including by discussing evidence before the end of the case, by making derogatory comments about Goodman's wealth throughout the trial, and by ignoring instructions about not reading media coverage of the case.

It was allegedly an alternate juror that called the court at the end of March, "wishing to report the various forms of misconduct she had witnessed during the trial," the motion said.

When the court did not respond, the motion stated, the alternate juror called the office of Goodman's attorneys and told them of the alleged misconduct.

Defense attorney Roy Black's office said they have no comment at this time: "The motion speaks for itself."

Goodman has already settled a civil suit over the crash after adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar242012

Polo Tycoon's Story Wasn't Credible, Juror in DUI Manslaughter Case Says

Hemera/Thinkstock(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A juror who helped convict Florida polo tycoon John Goodman of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide said the defendant's testimony, including the argument that he got drunk only after a fatal February 2010 crash, simply wasn't credible.

In fact, Dennis DeMartin, juror number five, told ABC News, Goodman's testimony was "pitiful."

"I really felt sorry for him," said DeMartin, a retired accountant who plans to write a book about the experience. "I didn't think they should have put him on up there. I think that was a mistake."

Goodman, 48, and his defense said he wasn't drunk at the time of the accident in Wellington, Fla., but that his $200,000 Bentley malfunctioned, slamming into Scott Wilson's Hyundai with fatal results, that he hit his head and didn't realize Wilson's car was sinking in the canal nearby.

Wilson, a 23-year-old engineering graduate, was still strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

Goodman's defense told jurors he wandered away, dazed and with a broken wrist, fractured chest and back injuries, and stumbled upon a barn with a second-floor office that was described during the trial as a "man cave," where he tried to call for help and found some alcohol.

"I grabbed a bottle of liquor, thinking it would help with my pain," Goodman testified.

Goodman's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when police tested him hours after the crash. "They proved that he had a .177 alcohol in his system plus some drug, but it was prescribed by a doctor," DeMartin said. "So that was the proof he had been drinking."

DeMartin said jurors believed the story about drinking in the "man cave" was "unsubstantiated," and felt, "He must have been drunk [before the crash] because he went through a stop sign."

DeMartin believed Goodman must have run a stop sign near the crash site for the accident to have caused the damage it did.

"You can't start up and just take off and hit the car over there at 60 mph or 30 mph," DeMartin said. "He had to go right through [the stop sign] is what I thought."

Goodman could be given 30 years in prison when sentenced on April 30.

The judge Friday denied defense attorney Roy Black's request for Goodman to be released on bail and Goodman was taken into custody.

DeMartin said jurors had little trouble agreeing on the verdict although they did go back and review the 911 tapes.

"I wanted to be sure that Mr. Goodman admitted that he had a few drinks," DeMartin said. "And I wanted to be sure, because he said, at first, he stopped at the stop sign, looked and then went."

Goodman, the multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony contradicted him.

"I think that justice was served. I think [jurors] were very careful," prosecutor Ellen Roberts said at a news conference Friday. "They went over a lot of evidence and I think they probably returned the only verdict they could."

Roberts said she would not know what sentence she planned to recommend to the judge until she spoke with the Wilson family.

Defense attorney Black issued a statement saying that Goodman will appeal the conviction.

"It is our belief that multiple errors were committed during and before the trial that, in effect, denied our client's ability to get a fair trial," Black said. "We intend to file an appeal so that our client can receive the just and fair proceeding to which he is entitled by law."

When attorneys from both sides had their last chance to appeal to jurors in Thursday's closing arguments, they battled about the events of the night of the accident, focusing on how much Goodman had to drink.

"The defendant was impaired, the defendant was speeding, the defendant ran a stop sign, the defendant probably unintentionally had too much to drink that night," prosecutor Sherri Collins said in her closing arguments. "And when the crash happened, did he go around and look at the front of the car to see what he hit or to the canal that was three feet away? No, he headed south.

"He didn't do any of the things that are required by law and, ladies and gentlemen, there is no excuse for that," she said.

When Goodman took the stand, he denied drinking powerful cocktails known as Irish car bombs and mind erasers, which defense attorney Black reiterated in his closing arguments.

"There's no doubt this case is a tragedy, that a young man lost his life," Black said. "This is a sad thing. We all recognize that, but we're not here to compound that tragedy with another one. This is a horrible accident, but this is not a crime."

Goodman has already settled a civil suit over the crash after adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar212012

Polo Tycoon John Goodman Testifies at His Vehicular Homicide Trial

Hemera/Thinkstock (WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Polo tycoon John Goodman took the stand in his vehicular homicide trial on Wednesday and said that he was "absolutely not" drunk when his Bentley malfunctioned and slammed into a car, killing 23-year old Scott Wilson.

Goodman, 48, crashed into Wilson's Hyundai in February 2010, knocking the car into a canal where Wilson, 23, drowned.

The multi-millionaire is being tried on charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash. He has pleaded not guilty, and faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted.

Goodman testified that he went to two gatherings earlier that night with friends and had four drinks: a vodka tonic at the White Horse Tavern and then two shots of tequila and a shot of Grey Goose vodka at the Players Club.

His Players Club bill shows a tab for more than 10 tequilas and other drinks, but Goodman said he bought a round for friends.

When asked if he was impaired, the 6-foot-1 and 220 pound man said, "Absolutely not."

Goodman said he was on his way to a Wendy's restaurant about midnight for a late night frosty when the crash occurred.

"I was travelling down and I began to apply my brakes and the car did not seem to be stopping as easily as I was used to, and I slowed near a stop sign and I applied the brake," he testified.

"I took my foot off the brake and that was the last thing I remember," he said.

Goodman's $200,000 Bentley raced through the stop sign, slamming into Wilson's vehicle.

Goodman said that when he got out of the car he was dazed and didn't know where he was.

"I looked around and didn't see what I had hit.... I had a broken wrist and a fractured chest, my back was horrible, and I had a head injury. I was in pain," he said.

Goodman said he didn't see any other vehicles, and walked away, looking for a phone because his cell phone had died.

Wilson's Hyundai had landed upside down in a nearby canal with the engineering graduate still strapped into the driver's seat.

When asked by his attorney Roy Black what he would have done if he knew a car had been knocked into the canal, Goodman replied, "If I knew there was another vehicle in the canal I would have gone in and done whatever I could."

Goodman said he wandered away from the accident in the dark, and came upon a barn with a light on. When no one answered his banging, he entered and went upstairs into a furnished office looking for a phone, he said.

When he couldn't find a phone, he sat down on a couch, and spotted a bottle of alcohol, he testified.

"I grabbed a bottle of liquor, thinking it would help with my pain," he said. "I was in excruciating pain. I was in a lot of pain."

Goodman said he went outside and spotted a light on a trailer in the distance. It was there, at the home of Lisa Pembleton, where he called 911, nearly an hour after the accident. The medical examiner testified earlier in the trial, that that time was the difference between life and death for Scott Wilson.

Goodman, founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, has already settled a civil suit over the crash after adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate.

The trial has drawn national attention. Throughout, jurors have heard from the elite in the world of polo, including the face of Ralph Lauren and international polo star Ignacio "Nacho" Figueras. Figueras saw Goodman earlier that night at a polo charity event, where the model was serving as a celebrity bartender.

"He looked fine. When he said he was leaving, I walked with him to the door," Figueras said. He testified that he did not smell any alcohol on Goodman. Other defense witnesses said the same.

Goodman's defense team says that the crash was not Goodman's fault, arguing that he was sober and that his Bentley malfunctioned, accelerating through the intersection.

His lawyers have said that Goodman hit his head when his Bentley's side air bag did not deploy, and that he had a concussion and was confused in the hours after the accident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar092012

Civil Suit Settled With Polo Tycoon Who Adopted Girlfriend

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A civil suit against a polo magnate who adopted his girlfriend in an apparent effort to protect some of his fortune has been settled, ABC News has learned.

Multi-millionaire John Goodman was sued by Lili and William Wilson for up to $100 million for the wrongful death of their son, Scott.

Goodman allegedly ran a stop sign in February 2010 and smashed his Bentley into Wilson’s Hyundai. He fled the scene on foot, according to police reports, leaving the 23-year-old to drown in a nearby canal. On a 911 call after the accident, Goodman tells an operator that he was “down the road to a barn.”

It was determined that Goodman’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, police documents state.

Sources declined to discuss the details of the civil settlement.

The settlement came just as Goodman’s criminal trial is about to begin. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on March 13.

He faces charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash. If convicted, he could spend up to 30 years in prison.

The tycoon’s legal woes attracted attention in October when he adopted his longtime girlfriend, socialite Heather Hutchins, 42, in an apparent maneuver to shield one-third of his fortune from the Wilsons’ lawsuit.

Neither of his two children are 35 years old, the age they are given access to the family trust.

In total Hutchins could receive as much as $200 million over the next 40 years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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