Florida polo magnate gets 16 years for deadly drunken driving crash

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 3:29 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida polo club founder was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Friday after a jury for a second time found him guilty of killing a recent college graduate in a collision while driving drunk late one night in Palm Beach County.

John Goodman, a 51-year-old from a Texas family that made a fortune in the air conditioning business, was convicted last month of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

He faced a maximum of 16 years, the same sentence he received following a 2012 manslaughter conviction linked to the same incident, which was thrown out due to juror misconduct.

"I didn't come to any new epiphany, and there were no new facts," Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath said at the sentencing.

Goodman, who appeared in a Palm Beach courthouse shackled and wearing a navy blue jumpsuit, did not speak in court. His attorneys have said he plans to appeal.

During the 15-day retrial, prosecutors said Goodman was driving his Bentley convertible after a night of drinking in February 2010 when he struck a car driven by 23-year-old Scott Wilson, whose vehicle landed upside down in a roadside canal.

While Goodman fled on foot, Wilson drowned in his car, belted into his seat, according to an initial arrest report.

Goodman's lawyers argued the brakes in his nearly $200,000 car malfunctioned and that his high blood alcohol level came from drinks consumed at a nearby bar following the accident.

Goodman settled a civil lawsuit brought by Wilson's family for an undisclosed sum as the first criminal trial began in 2012.

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Eric Walsh)