A Florida court revoked a polo tycoon's adoption of his girlfriend, a scheme that aimed to funnel her millions of dollars as he battled lawsuits that could have cut into his fortune.
John Goodman, 49, took his 42-year-old girlfriend as his daughter in Sept. 2011, at a time when he was being sued for driving drunk and killing a 23-year-old in Wellington, the Palm Beach Post reported. He was simultaneously embroiled in another legal fight over the trust fund for his two children and ex-wife.
The adoption of Heather Hutchins would have given her $5 million upon entering the unusual arrangement, $3 million more at the end of 2012 and future payments totaling $8.75, ABC News reported. In all, she would have banked $16.75 million.
That money originated in the trust fund for his kids and former spouse.
Judges on Miami's Third District Court of Appeals rebuked him for tapping into the trust without telling his ex-wife Carroll Goodman until he'd already sealed the deal with Hutchins, the Miami Herald writes. Carroll Goodman brought the lawsuit that voided the adoption.
The court called it "fraud" and said that adopting a "paramour" served no purpose.
Currently under house arrest, Goodman is mounting an appeal for his conviction in the drunk-driving death of Scott Wilson in 2010. A jury sentenced him to 16 years for slamming into Wilson's Hyundai with his Bentley. The crash knocked Wilson into a canal where he drowned.
In the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Wilson's parents, Goodman agreed to pay them $46 million.
To overturn his conviction, Goodman's defense team set its target on a juror they accuse of misconduct, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Juror Dennis DeMartin reveals in a memoir that his ex-wife was arrested for wrecking her sports car while driving drunk and then fleeing the accident. She went on to have an affair with a man she met in a DUI program that led to the dissolution of DeMartin's marriage. During jury selection, DeMartin never revealed his history. Goodman's attorneys argue that if they'd known DeMartin's past they would have blocked him from the jury, the Palm Beach Post reported.