Smuggler sells out his lawyer to strike a deal
November 24, 1998
Charles Goldman smuggled drugs a lot of them and he was facing serious prison time when federal agents proposed a deal.
They would offer leniency if Goldman would testify against his own lawyer and a South Florida police officer on charges that they had avoided paying taxes on illicit drug income.
Since the charges involved tax evasion, Goldman worked closely with an Internal Revenue Service agent, Synda Smith, 38.
Attorney David Arnold and Opa Locka Police Officer Armando Coto received 15-year prison terms in February 1993, based largely on Goldmans testimony. What they didnt know, and what theyre citing in their request for new trials, is that Goldman and Smith had sex several times while they were conferring about his testimony.
The two conducted the affair in a prosecutors lounge at the courthouse, which is known as "the Igloo" because of the frigid conditions that the air conditioning system creates there. "Evidently, these Arctic conditions were no impediment to Agent Smith and Mr. Goldman," said defense lawyer Michael Tarre in court papers. Smith later admitted the affair to federal investigators.
Arnold and Coto say Smiths liaison with Goldman tainted his testimony, that Goldman embellished his story in return for Smiths favors.
They also say prosecutors knew of the relationship but didnt tell defense attorneys, as discovery rules require. That knowledge might have seriously damaged Goldmans testimony, they said.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ordered a new trial.
In the meantime, Goldman has been released from prison because of his help; his sentence was cut by more than half. Smith has left her job at the IRS.