Oscar Baylin Goodman (born July 26, 1939) is a famous American lawyer and politician. He is widely known for being a "mob lawyer" and represented many notorious gangsters over the span of his career. He later turned to politics and became the Mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada. He has also appeared in minor roles in several Hollywood movies, usually playing the mayor of Las Vegas.
Goodman was born and raised in Philadelphia, graduated from The Haverford School, Haverford College and received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He and his wife Carolyn have four children.
During his career as a defense attorney he represented defendants accused of being some of the leading organized crime figures in Las Vegas, such as Meyer Lansky, Nicodemo Scarfo, Herbert Blitzstein, Phil Leonetti, former Stardust Casino boss Frank Rosenthal, and Jamiel "Jimmy" Chagra, a 1970s drug trafficker who was acquitted of ordering the murder of Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. One of his most notorious clients was reputed Chicago Outfit mobster Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, who was known to have a short and violent temper, (Goodman also allegedly let some of his "mob clients" use his office for meetings and settling disputes to avoid being picked up on FBI surveillance). In the semi-factual 1995 movie Casino, the character of Nicky Santoro was based on Spilotro and was portrayed by actor Joe Pesci. Goodman had a cameo appearance in the film as himself while defending "Ace Rothstein", a character closely based on Lefty Rosenthal and played by Robert De Niro.
Mayor of Las Vegas
Goodman was elected mayor of Las Vegas on June 8, 1999 and was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2003. On April 3, 2007, he was re-elected to a third and final term. Las Vegas law prevents the mayor, who has been called the town's "most popular mayor", from serving more than three terms.
Goodman was a member of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority before being elected mayor.
Goodman was the first mayor of Las Vegas to have his image placed on $5 and $25 casino chips issued by a Las Vegas casino. The two chips were issued by the Four Queens Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. In 2006, the Four Queens put out a $200 Silver Strike with the likeness of Oscar on it.
In 2003, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith wrote a book titled Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman's Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas, which chronicles Goodman's life, including 35 years spent defending notorious U.S. crime figures, including, among others, Meyer Lansky, Anthony "Tony The Ant" Spilotro and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (The last two were portrayed respectively, and under different names, in the film Casino by Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro).
Currently, prostitution is legal in Nevada only in rural counties with fewer than 400,000 residents, a requirement which excludes Clark County and the city of Las Vegas from allowing the practice. Mayor Goodman supports legalizing prostitution in the city's downtown area as a revenue generator and tool for revitalization, although a majority of Nevadans polled in 2003 opposed the mayor's position. Goodman's views on prostitution have been criticized by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, as well as Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston.