A Philadelphia stockbroker pleaded guilty yesterday to making hundreds of harassing phone calls to one of the nation's wealthiest men over a Palm Beach dinner that she charged ended with rape. Laura Goldman, 37, admitted making the calls to Boston financier Thomas Lee and two of his New York lawyers, Arthur Liman and Jeh Johnson, in the months after the 1993 dinner. "I believe and always will believe that he raped me," she said outside Manhattan Federal Court, minutes after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of interstate telephone harassment. Prosecutor Alexander Shapiro agreed to drop felony extortion charges that could have carried a two-year jail stint. Under her plea deal, Goldman likely will receive a year's probation at sentencing, scheduled for May 7. Goldman charged that on Feb. 3, 1993, Lee, 51 married at the time and worth $400 million, according to Forbes magazine invited her to his exclusive Palm Beach, Fla., condo, called The Breakers, for a "business dinner".
She was hoping to win him over as a client, but she said he sexually attacked her. She filed no charges with the police, but began calling Lee dozens of times a day. Lee paid her $200,000 to leave him alone, but Goldman continued making the phone calls, mostly at night. Lee contacted the FBI, and Goldman was arrested in July. At the time, she was told to have no further contact with Lee or his attorneys. On Thanksgiving weekend, however, Goldman showed up in Palm Beach at the same time Lee was there. Security people found Goldman riding a bicycle outside Lee's condo, peering into the bushes near his beach cabana and sitting for hours in a restaurant Lee frequented. Goldman admitted being there, but said she was there on business and to visit family. Lee said through Johnson he was "very pleased with the agreement and hopes that Miss Goldman can get on with her life.
Johnson noted that Lee denies the rape charges and says he paid her the $200,000 to "stop harassing him".