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BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- If Oscar Goodman were dictator of the world, he announced in a recent interview, he would not only legalize prostitution in Las Vegas, he would press for the “brothelization” of the city. Strip resorts, he says, would happily add the most luxurious bordellos imaginable to their array of entertainments.
These and other musings can be found in his new memoir, Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas – Only in America.
As the title implies, the book concentrates on the two most significant professional chapters in Goodman’s life. But along the way, he manages to give the world a few pieces of his mind.
Like many criminal defense lawyers, Goodman declares the war on drugs a failure. He would legalize all drugs including heroin and cocaine, and make it the responsibility of parents to educate children not to use drugs. The benefit, as the former mayor sees it, would be to provide revenue for education. We could pay teachers $250,000, he suggests provocatively.
Much of the memoir focuses on Goodman’s career “practicing law at its highest level.” His mob clients had the resources to pay for the best legal defense and the appeals. And, he notes, he got his best referrals from prison because even when he lost a case, his clients thought he’d done all he could to get them acquitted.
Defending his notoriously unpopular clients protected the Constitution and helped all the poorer criminals who would have had their rights trampled by law enforcement and the court system, he says. Goodman is scathing about police lies and prosecutors who manipulate “rats.” The tactics used to incarcerate his clients are an abuse of power, not just technicalities. “Not a damn thing happened to those lying cops,” he added.
Goodman’s says his big shift from mouthpiece to mayor came late in his career when he felt he’d done as much as he could in criminal defense. He decided to run for mayor despite having no experience and even little interest in local government. Still, his persuasive manner as a determined amateur and won the day. He credits his term with saving downtown, but he still hankers for a downtown stadium which could house a Las Vegas NBA franchise. And he’s sure it will eventually happen.