International Polo Club Palm Beach Founder John Goodman Found Guilty of DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide

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John Goodman. Photo: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Mar. 23–John Goodman, founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, was found guilty Friday of driving under the influence manslaughter, vehicular homicide and failure to aid a 23-year-old college graduate two years ago.

The judge ordered John Goodman held in custody in the Palm Beach County jail and he will hold a hearing to determine the sentence.

The convictions carry a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

The defense said it will appeal and file a motion for a new trial.

The 48-year-old heir to a Texas air conditioning fortune, was found by the six-member jury to have been under the influence when the 2007 Bentley GTC Continental he was driving collided with a Hyundai Sonata driven by 23-year-old Scott Wilson on his way to his mother’s home in Wellington early in the morning of Feb. 12, 2010. The Bentley pushed the Hyundai into a canal beside the road and the recent engineering graduate was trapped inside and drowned.

The prosecution introduced evidence that John Goodman left the scene of the accident.

The two-week trial of John Goodman, coupled with his adoption of his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins, as his daughter last year in an “estate planning” move to protect his assets, garnered widespread publicity around the world.

John Goodman recently settled a civil lawsuit wih the victim’s family.

His International Polo Club hosts one of the world’s largest polo circuits, including the prestigious U.S. Open.

The club also sponsored the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach during the Florida winter circuits for the past two years. His girlfriend testified during the trial that she is a dressage rider.

John Goodman’s defense team included attorney Roy Black, famous for winning the acquittal of Kennedy family member William Kennedy Smith on rape charges in Palm Beach 20 years ago.

The defense strategy in the John Goodman case was three-fold:

–The Bentley’s computer system malfunctioned and the driver could not control the car;
–John Goodman sustained a concussion in the crash that disoriented him and made him unaware he had hit another vehicle, and
–A blood alcohol reading of more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash was because John Goodman had gone to a nearby barn after the accident and swigged a large quanity of alcohol to ease his pain.