Arpaio

Former Arpaio Lawyer Mark Goldman's Divorce Has Taken Some Strange Turns

Mark Goldman (left) and another former lawyer for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dennis Wilenchik, seen after a hearing in April 2017.
Mark Goldman (left) and another former lawyer for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dennis Wilenchik, seen after a hearing in April 2017. Stephen Lemons
Scottsdale lawyer Mark Goldman believes in accountability.

Not for his former client, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who he helped win a presidential pardon in 2017.

Rather, it's Goldman's estranged wife who must be held accountable. Goldman runs a website that outs her and a group of local teenagers and parents for partying at a house he owns. The site labels his wife as a "drunk" mother, displays videos of his daughter's high-school friends alleged drinking under her watch, and doxxes one of the other parents with seemingly unrelated court records.

Goldman told Phoenix New Times in a recent interview that he created the site and published it almost a year ago as a way to "deter" the alcohol use that the videos seem to show. But the site also ties into a divorce-court battle with his wife that's been going on for two years.

New Times isn't naming the cringe-worthy site or the high school his kid attends. Goldman has blasted out the site's link and contents on his Facebook page over the past several months, leaving one tipster — someone who has no connection to the school or divorce but simply doesn't like Goldman — to notify New Times of its existence.

"Watch and listen to video of a stupid looking and drunk ... father drinking with and serving wine to my 15-year-old daughter and other children," the site says in all caps. "Same drunk ... mother knowingly sends our daughter to him so they can get drunk together. Sick! ... Do not sent [sic] your children to ... or they'll end up like this drunk student getting drunk at the same ... mother's house."

He accuses the "same" mother of hosting "binge drinking parties" at his house, claiming that "at this party she poured so much alcohol down this ... student's throat that she is passed out with her face planted in the paver at my home." An accompanying photo shows a young woman lying on the ground, her back to the camera.

In other videos, teens appear to be downing hard liquor and vaping.

The site also reproduced alleged text messages, including one that states: "If you want [alcohol] Goldman's mom is getting it now and we can split."

click to enlarge An image of a purported text on Mark Goldman's site. - SCREENSHOT
An image of a purported text on Mark Goldman's site.
Screenshot
Scottsdale Unified School District declined to comment specifically about the site.

In addition to describing some of the contents of other videos showing teens or unnamed parents, Goldman relates how he has fought allegations in court that he "planted" alcohol and vaping gear at his wife's home, where she lives with their two children.

Goldman's wife, Carolyn Goldman, who's also a lawyer, told New Times that her husband created the site because "he wants money from me. He's using this as a financial wedge."

Online family court records reveal this is the sort of complex divorce case one might expect from two lawyers married for more than 20 years. The Goldmans have lobbed complex motions at each other since Carolyn filed for divorce in 2018, but remain too close for comfort, living separately in two houses they own on the same street. Oral arguments in the case are planned for next month, with "temporary orders" scheduled to be issued in February.

Carolyn said Goldman wants "significant payments" from her, plus custody of their children, and he thinks showing off the videos — which she said he obtained from their daughter's old phone after he entered their home improperly — will help him accomplish his goals. She said she had nothing to do with New Times' tip and doesn't want to give the website any publicity.

"I have an order of protection against him, but the court cannot order him to take this down or not post again because it violates the First Amendment," she said. Theoretically, she could try to have him charged for harassment or sue for defamation, but figures such actions would be "pointless."

Mark Goldman said nothing on the site is "false or inaccurate." He didn't create the site to take revenge on his wife, but to "deter children from coming to what is still my home and binge-drinking there."

"The website about the school became common knowledge as soon as it was put up," he said, adding that it has worked as a deterrent.

He admits he blocked out his own daughter's face from a video but not the faces of the other underage teens at the home, but didn't want to talk about that. He also said "it's not worth discussing" why he posted court documents that list a parent's home address on the site. But he did acknowledge that he got the videos from his teen daughter's phone.

He paused for a moment when asked if he worries the website caused the teens any emotional damage.

"I believe it's better for them" to be outed on the site "so long as it deters them from binge drinking at my home, which is much more dangerous for them than anything this website could do," Goldman said.

He did previously try — unsuccessfully — to admit the videos as evidence in the divorce case as part of his child-custody fight, he said. He also uses the website to make points about some of the divorce proceedings, noting that the "drunk ... mother avowed to two judges and two courts that I planted the alcohol and vaping products in my own house. Really? Did I plant the alcohol and vaping products in the students' mouths too? This is why I am compelled to post these photos and videos."

The site is updated regularly, Goldman said.

"I have no desire to humiliate anybody," he said. "I'm doing what I believe any responsible father would do."

click to enlarge Goldman with Arpaio in 2017. - STEPHEN LEMONS
Goldman with Arpaio in 2017.
Stephen Lemons
Goldman moved to Arizona in the 1990s and has been entrenched in local Republican politics for more than a decade. He became friends with Arpaio and gave money to former Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas, who appreciated the funds so much he made Goldman a special deputy county attorney in 2005, gave him an office with a window, and put him to work digging up dirt on a county supervisor. Fellow employees watched as Goldman "arrived in tailored suits, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, oftentimes chauffeured in a limo," the Arizona Republic reported in 2011.

His work, ironically, led to Thomas' disbarment for abuse of power in April 2012. Arpaio, who had something akin to an "unholy collaboration" with Thomas at the time, according to a panel of judges, was reelected in 2012.

Goldman has also worked as an attorney for actor Steven Seagal and in 2011 held a fundraiser for former County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who's now a state Supreme Court justice.

Goldman became Arpaio's attorney in early 2017, when Arpaio — who had lost his seat in the previous year's election — was fighting a federal charge of contempt for violating a court order intended to stop racial discrimination at the sheriff's office. After Arpaio was convicted of the misdemeanor charge that July, Goldman wrote to Trump's attorney, asking for a pardon to be issued soon to avoid "the very real scenario for Sheriff Arpaio to be sentenced, handcuffed, given a 'perp walk' and incarcerated" on his sentencing day that October. Trump pardoned Arpaio on August 25, 2017.
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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern