Bloomberg News

Palm Beach Polo Tycoon Gets 16 Years in Prison

May 12, 2012

John Goodman, the Florida polo tycoon, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for driving under the influence-manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the 2010 death of a 23-year-old man whose car he slammed into with his Bentley.

The sentence was about half of the maximum faced by Goodman, founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.

Goodman, 48, ran a stop sign in his convertible, striking a car driven by Scott Patrick Wilson, which careened into a roadside canal. Goodman walked home and waited an hour before calling 911, prosecutors said, while the victim drowned. Palm Beach County Judge Jeffrey Colbath said yesterday that, in determining the sentence, he considered the fact that Goodman’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and that he did nothing to try to save Wilson.

“He had an opportunity to try to save Mr. Wilson,” Colbath said. “He could have gotten in that canal.” Goodman spoke briefly during the hearing, saying “I don’t know what to say. I’m so sad and remorseful.”

A six-person jury convicted Goodman earlier this year in the Feb. 12, 2010, death of Wilson. Goodman faced as many as 30 years in prison.

$7 Million

Colbath allowed Goodman’s family to post $7 million in cash and property to bail him out pending the results of his appeal. Goodman also offered to pay for off-duty police officers to “babysit” him after Colbath said he was concerned Goodman had the financial wherewithal to flee the country.

Prosecutors asked that they be notified if Goodman’s girlfriend, whom he has legally adopted, gains access to a trust that was set up for his children.

The judge rejected a bid by Goodman’s attorney, Roy Black, for a new trial based on juror misconduct. The judge questioned juror Dennis DeMartin after he self-published a book about the trial in which he wrote that, the night before the jury reached a verdict, he had four drinks to see how that number of drinks would have left Goodman impaired.

‘Take the Drinks’

“I didn’t take the drinks to find out if he was guilty or not,” DeMartin said. “I took the drinks to see if I could handle it.”

Black had argued that Goodman should get a new trial because DeMartin conducted an experiment rather than making his decision based on the evidence in the case.

“It really doesn’t matter what he wrote in his book and it really doesn’t matter what he said to the press,” Assistant State Attorney Sherri Collins said. “He has every right to do those things.”

Black said Goodman’s insurance company had paid Wilson’s parents $40 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Susannah Nesmith in Palm Beach County court in Florida at susannahnesmith@yahoo.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net


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