The Billionaire, The Bentley And The Body, Part III: Divorce And Cocaine

Over the course of our investigation into the tragic case of John Goodman, the Bentley-driving billionaire Houston / Palm Beach polo patron, some interesting questions were raised regarding the ownership of the 2.2 million Tanglewood home.

It turns out that it is not, as reported here and in several other news outlets, John Goodman's home. It is the residence of Carroll Goodman, his now ex-wife, and their two children. John Goodman's local address was listed as a condo in the Uptown Park area, very near the Houston polo grounds.

According to papers at the Harris County Courthouse, the Goodmans' divorce became final in 2008. (Carroll filed for divorce once before, in 2005, but the two evidently reconciled just over a year later.) There was little of interest to be found in the final decree. Most of it was standard stuff, save for a notation that there had been a pre-nup, and another stating that since both John and Carroll were very wealthy, there was no need for John to make monthly child support payments to Carroll. The couple was made joint managing conservators of their children, a boy who is now 11 and a girl who is now 14, and a standard visitation schedule was decreed.

But there was one intriguing item, a key provision John Goodman evidently decided he did not wish to heed. He and Carroll agreed to each see Dr. Milton Altschuler, a psychiatrist, "within 14 days of entry of this degree," and that each of the parties would "follow Dr. Altschuler's recommendations."

No reason was given for the existence of this provision in the final divorce decree, which became official on November 21, 2008. Clarification would only come in Carroll Goodman's motion for enforcement of that decree, which she filed in April of 2009.

According to that motion, Goodman did not follow Altschuler's recommendations. And the motion went on to say the following:

"Respondent has a history of substance abuse, namely cocaine use. Because of this, both Movant [Carroll] and Respondent [John] agreed that Respondent would submit himself for the purpose of the random drug screen for cocaine as requested by Dr. Altschuler."

The motion goes on to state that John Goodman did not return Altschuler's phoned attempts to set up the drug screen. The motion makes note of the standard visitation schedule for the children, and then goes on to state: "Movant is fearful for the safety and well-being of her children while they are in the possession of Respondent because of his history of substance abuse and his refusal to submit himself for drug screening."

Carroll asked the court to enforce the provision that John Goodman submit to Altschuler's recommendations, but that "based on the conduct of Respondent alleged above," that he would "continue to disobey the order of this court." Therefore, Carroll requested that the court suspend John's visitation with the children until he both followed Dr. Altschuler's recommendations and "tests negative for any non-prescribed drug as a result of any such testing performed under Dr. Altschuler's direction."

In January of this year, the court dismissed Carroll's motion. The Court stated that the "order sought to be enforced by [Carroll] is incapable of enforcement by contempt, in that it is ambiguous and not clear and specific enough in its terms that Respondent knows what duties or obligations are required of him."

Neither, apparently, did he know what duties or expectations were expected of him after his Bentley smashed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai Sonata.

Two days ago, Palm Beach TV station WPTV broke a story about a witness - who feared to be identified publicly - who claims to have called 911 and also that Goodman left the scene of the accident.

This witness, a 20-year-old man, says he was driving home with a friend when they came upon what they thought was a car parked by the side of the road with its lights on. They thought it looked suspicious, especially when they got closer and saw lots of debris and were able to make the car as a battered Bentley with deployed airbags.

That was when the witness claims he called 911 the first time.

"After we got off the phone the first time, we saw a car completely submerged in the canal, except for the black tires," he said.

Evidently, they then called 911 again. "We asked the dispatcher if we should jump in and see if there was anyone to try and save, and they told us not to jump in," says the 20-year old.

Citing the ongoing nature of the investigation, the Palm Beach Sheriff's department won't yet confirm or deny who made the 911 calls or release them to the public. The anonymous witness says that when the tapes do become public, you will hear him telling the dispatcher that Goodman is AWOL from the scene of the wreck.

'We were here until 2:15 in the morning and he was nowhere in sight," he says.

And there is an even more shocking allegation, this one directed at the Palm Beach deputies investigating the wreck. The witness claims that he was not questioned. At all.

"I think it's odd that they never took a statement from us and they never asked us what we did and they just told us to leave," he said.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax