Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Goldberg faces second probation violation charge

Man convicted in art theft now accused of telephone harassment

Express Staff Writer

A former Blaine County businessman convicted in a four-year-old art theft case in Ketchum is now accused of threatening to kill the owner of a Ketchum real estate company.

Gary J. Goldberg, a 52-year-old municipal bonds trader who now lives in northern Idaho, was charged in May with misdemeanor telephone harassment for allegedly threatening the life of Todd Conklin, the owner of Coldwell Banker Conklin & Co.

Goldberg, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to probation violation in the art theft case, is now charged for a second time with violating probationary requirements.

His arraignment on the second probation violation charge was set for Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court. Goldberg failed to appear, but Judge Robert J. Elgee accepted a not guilty plea through his attorney, Michael Kraynick.

Goldberg now lives in Sandpoint. According to Bonner County court records, he was arrested there on May 19 on a DUI charge.

Conklin, who has had past business associations with Goldberg, said in an interview that Goldberg's life seems to be in a "downward spiral."

"I want to make it clear that the last thing Coldwell Banker wants is to be tied to Gary Goldberg in any way," Conklin said.

Stolen art

Goldberg's troubles with the law in Blaine County date back to Oct. 7, 2005, when a bronze sculpture of a bull and four cow elk, valued at $7,500, came up missing from Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum during Gallery Walk. On Dec. 26, 2005, the sculpture was discovered at a home owned by Goldberg on Bird Drive.

A Ketchum police report states that Goldberg told investigators that he purchased the sculpture from a "carload of Mexicans for $500." However, in October 2006, he pleaded guilty to felony possession of the sculpture.

He was given a withheld judgment and sentenced to three years' supervised probation. The withheld judgment would have allowed the conviction to be later removed from his criminal record.

A first probation violation charge was filed against Goldberg last December when he was charged with felony grand theft in a case not related to the art theft case. According to court records, he was accused of receiving payment twice and cashing duplicate checks for an automobile he sold to a Utah car dealership.

Attorney Kraynick attributed the situation to a banking mistake and the charge was later dismissed. However, it was dismissed without prejudice, which gave the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office the option of refiling it.

Goldberg and the prosecutor's office reached a plea agreement in March under which he agreed to plead guilty to probation violation in the art theft case in exchange for an agreement to not file new charges in the check case.

Elgee accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Goldberg to three more years of probation. The withheld judgment was also revoked at that time and Elgee imposed a suspended seven-year prison sentence, which can be reinstated at the judge's discretion.

Alleged Harassment

Goldberg's second probation violation charge arose because of the telephone harassment charge filed May 22.

A probable cause affidavit filed in the case by Ketchum police Detective Scott Manning alleges that Goldberg made "approximately 12 phone calls" to Conklin or to the Coldwell Banker office. Manning alleged that in at least one telephone call, Goldberg said he "was going to kill Conklin" and also "made threats against the life and physical being of George Rizzo," a sales associate at Coldwell Banker.

Manning wrote that in another conversation Goldberg threatened to "disfigure" Conklin "to the point that his own mother wouldn't recognize him, that he threatened to grab Conklin by the neck and break him in half and he threatened to break Conklin's neck."

"This conversation was heard by a number of others, as Conklin had used a speaker phone," Manning wrote.

Conklin said he's not sure why Goldberg might be angry with him or Coldwell Banker. He said that the agency recently helped Goldberg sell a home in Ketchum when he moved to Sandpoint.

"We did a really good job, and he left town, and I think he's started to mentally deteriorate," Conklin said.

Conklin said the alleged threats were disruptive to the business.

"He called and said some pretty frightening things to some folks," Conklin said. "Personally, I think he's harmless."

Goldberg is currently free on $7,500 bond—$5,000 for the alleged telephone harassment and $2,500 for the alleged probation violation.

An evidentiary hearing for the probation violation has been scheduled for June 29. No new court dates have yet been set in the telephone harassment case.

Neither Goldberg nor Kraynick could be reached for comment by press deadline Tuesday.

Terry Smith:

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