Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Judge modifies terms of businessman's probation

Goldberg can purchase alcohol, but can?t drink it

Express Staff Writer

Gary J. Goldberg

A Ketchum businessman, who is on three-years felony probation for possessing a stolen art piece, can now purchase alcohol, but he's not allowed to drink it.

Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee ruled Monday that Gary J. Goldberg, who is a municipal bonds trader, can purchase alcohol for clients, but he warned that Goldberg better not be caught drinking it.

"He still may not possess or consume any himself," Elgee said. "He better not be standing at the bar by himself on Friday afternoon."

Abstinence from alcohol was a condition of probation when Goldberg was sentenced on Oct. 30, 2006, for possessing a bronze sculpture that was stolen a year earlier from Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum.

Goldberg, who pleaded guilty in September 2006 to grand theft by possession, was also given a withheld judgment, which means the charge can be erased from his record if he abides by the conditions of his probation, which also forbade him to purchase alcohol or frequent bars or taverns.

Goldberg wasn't in court Monday, but his attorney Michael Kraynick requested that the alcohol provisions be removed from the conditions of probation so that Goldberg can wine and dine prospective clients as is customary in business dealings.

Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Warren Christiansen argued against the request, saying that the alcohol provisions are standard probation conditions. He also argued that Goldberg portrayed himself as "the victim" in two full-page advertisements Goldberg purchased in the Idaho Mountain Express that were published in the Dec. 8, 2006, and Dec. 13, 2006, editions.

Kraynick objected, saying the ads were irrelevant, and Elgee agreed saying he wasn't going to consider "an article in the newspaper as evidence."

However, Elgee pointed out that Goldberg admitted in court previously that he purchased the stolen sculpture in a parking lot after he'd been drinking and attributed his bad decision in part to alcohol.

Kraynick said Goldberg has abstained from alcohol since he was placed on probation.

"Mr. Goldberg has had no problems with his probation to date," Kraynick said.

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