Published July 30, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. – Lou Pearlman, the former boy band promoter and entrepreneur turned federal inmate, has taken another career turn: police informant.
Pearlman went to authorities with information about a 19-year-old man accused of killing an off-duty Orlando, Fla., police officer in a botched robbery, court documents released Wednesday show.
The 54-year-old founder of the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync said that while in jail, he heard Davin Smith admit fatally shooting Alfred Gordon.
Pearlman's cooperation was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.
Pearlman recounted several exchanges with Smith, who was held in a separate cell about 15 feet away. Pearlman said Smith and a co-defendant, called "homeboy" throughout the 23-page police interview, were trying to use a stolen bank card when they saw Gordon in the parking lot. After the first card didn't work, they tried to rob Gordon, he recalled Smith saying.
"(Smith) said that this guy was going to pull out his own gun, so Smith shot him," Pearlman said. "He said it happened, it happened so fast, Smith said his homeboy and he didn't know it was a cop. They immediately ran and they didn't, uh, rob the guy. They were afraid of getting caught."
Smith and Hugo Terry, 18, were indicted by a grand jury in October, less than a week after Gordon's murder. The two are charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted robbery with a firearm and robbery with a firearm. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Smith's attorney was out of town Wednesday and did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Terry's attorney, Joy Ragan, said Pearlman's situation could have motivated him to tell authorities anything, true or not.
"Typically in federal cases a person wants to help with as many cases as they can to better their own chances of getting a reduced sentence," Ragan said. "So how much of it Davin Smith actually said and how much of the statement is Lou's own exaggeration I have no way of knowing."
Pearlman is serving a 25-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to four counts for running a $300 million stock and investment scam. He was transferred from the Orange County Jail to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta earlier this month.
Pearlman told police he had several contacts with Smith -- both direct and overheard. He said the slaying suspect recognized him from the "Making the Band" show on MTV years ago. In turn, Pearlman and other inmates had seen Smith on the news in connection with Gordon's killing. He said Smith considered himself a celebrity who needed a famous attorney.
Pearlman, urged by his lawyers, kept meticulous notes of the exchanges. He said Smith reported using a Ruger 9mm in the killing, and was worried about police retrieving skin from the gun. Pearlman said Smith had been out of jail only a month and a half after serving five years for the nonfatal shooting of another man.
"He's just trying to do what he can to help authorities," Pearlman attorney Fletcher Peacock said. "Quite frankly, Mr. Pearlman would have come forward with it whether he had a case pending or not. It's just his obligation as a citizen."
Peacock said he would ask a judge to consider Pearlman's cooperation in future requests to lower his sentence.
Pearlman's sentence already calls for a month reduction for every million dollars he returns to investors, some of whom lost their life savings. So far no substantial sums have been recovered.