New charges filed against former San Juan County sheriff candidate

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Former San Juan County sheriff candidate and fugitive recovery agent Daniel Goldberg Sr. was arrested again this week on a 16-count indictment, with charges that include racketeering, extortion and fraud.

Daniel Goldberg, 55, was charged July 24 in Aztec Magistrate Court with two counts of fourth-degree felony fraud stemming from allegations he extorted money from a woman who secured a surety bond last September through Goldberg Bail Bond.

The new complaint filed Tuesday details similar allegations made by individuals who bonded with Bad Boyz Bail Bond, owned by Goldberg's stepson Rocky Fotta; Goodfellas Bail Bonds, owned by Daniel Goldberg's son Daniel Goldberg Jr.; and Steven Economos Bail Bonds, which contracts with Daniel Goldberg Jr.

Several alleged victims said they dealt almost exclusively with Daniel Goldberg Sr. when they bonded out of jail, despite the fact that the elder Goldberg is not licensed to operate as a bail bondsman.

Goldberg Sr. said in an interview he turned himself in on Wednesday and was released from San Juan County Adult Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. He alleged the charges were an act of political retaliation against him for seeking the Republican nomination for sheriff in the spring of 2014. Goldberg Sr. filed a defamation lawsuit against Sheriff Ken Christesen and other employees of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office after he lost the primary.

"It's taught me a lesson," he said. "If you exercise your constitutional rights to run for office and sue someone who has done you wrong, they can not only, under character of law, ruin your good name but also throw you away under lock and key."

As for the allegations, Goldberg Sr. denied he did anything illegal.

"Do I think I did anything illegal?" he said. "Certainly not. Do I think I did something unethical? I hope not. But it's difficult to do business with the people I do business with."

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the investigation into Goldberg Sr.'s alleged activities as a bail bondsman continues.

He said the San Juan County Sheriff's Office has also referred information to the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, the state agency responsible for licensing bail bondsmen.

Lorinda Martinez, chief of the office's agents and producers licensing bureau, said Friday she was not authorized to speak on the subject.

O'Brien said Goldberg Sr. could face additional criminal action. He said deputies also are investigating allegations made against Goldberg Jr. and Fotta.

"We are still investigating if there are other violations of criminal or administrative penalties," O'Brien said. "The sheriff's office is working with the state."

According to public records obtained from the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, Goldberg Sr.'s license to post surety bail bonds was cancelled in February 2007, and his request to renew the license was denied by the state agency.

The agency told Goldberg Sr. in a letter dated March 20, 2007, his license request was rejected in part because he failed to disclose that his Florida bail bondsman license was suspended in 1991.

Goldberg Sr.'s license was suspended after the state of Florida accused him of 12 administrative violations, including issuing bail bonds in the late 1980s while he was employed as a police officer with the Kenneth City, Fla., Police Department, according to state records.

As previously reported, Goldberg Sr. was criminally charged in November 1990 in Broward County, Fla. with issuing bail bonds while employed as a law enforcement officer. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor offense on July 12, 1991.

Goldberg was charged again in April 1994 in Broward County with violating the state's bail bondsman laws, but he was acquitted of the offense after a nonjury trial in October 1994.

Goldberg Sr. was also accused in the administrative complaint of procuring badges that read "special agent, Florida Bureau of Investigation," and identifying himself as "F.B.I." and "peace officer," records state.

Goldberg Sr. then operated a bail bondsman business called the Florida Bureau of Investigation, records state.

According to the records, the agency also denied Daniel Goldberg Jr. a bail bondsman license in March 2011 on allegations he lied about his criminal history on his license application. Goldberg Jr. appealed the decision, and the agency reversed its ruling and accepted his application.

Goldberg Sr. is expected to appear at a preliminary examination hearing in both criminal cases on Sept. 17.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.