The deaths of Peter Kovach and Ted Gould in October 1994 captured the nation’s attention as the mysterious circumstances surrounding the whole situation kept the authorities baffled for a long time. Yet, the truth behind the case portrayed a far more complicated and horrific picture than one could have imagined. CNBC’s ‘Blood & Money’ season 1 episode 4, titled ‘A College Kingpin’s Greed,’ elaborately covers this shocking double-murder. One of the most crucial people involved in this case was Howard Bloomgarden, whose involvement pushed him into the limelight. Naturally, people are curious about his current whereabouts, and we are here to discuss the same!
Who is Howard Bloomgarden?
Howard Bloomgarden’s connection to Peter Kovach dates to their college days when they established a drug business together. The two were students at the University of Miami when they started the venture. Howard reportedly grew up in a well-to-do family and had a presence that would often attract various people. The network he and Peter had established only expanded after graduating college.
In the summer of 1992, Howard and Peter’s business seemingly took an even more portable turn as they found a way to transport cheap and high-quality marijuana within the USA from Mexico via California. When the city of Miami, Florida, was hit by Hurricane Andrew, the two decided to bring in the goods disguised as hurricane relief packages. However, following the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, air transportation security increased in New York, and the authorities found one of their shipments.
Peter apparently moved to California to help transport the incoming goods to avoid any further risk of capture. Yet, shortly after, a shipment containing 800 pounds of marijuana was seized in Illinois. Since Howard bought all the goods on credit, he suffered a considerable loss, and Peter seemingly went under the radar. Howard decided to establish contact with him because he was angry at the financial hit and wondering if the latter was trying to sabotage his business.
To talk to Peter, Howard decided to seek the help of Kenneth “Kenny” Fieldman, the brother of his other business partner Gary Fieldman. Kenny partnered up with Ruben Hernandez, Juan Galindo, and Gus Malave. After the four kidnapped Peter and Ted Gould, who was simply an employee at the Galleria Telecom store, Howard spoke with his business partner via phone. He then talked with Kenny and allegedly ordered him to kill Peter before disconnecting the call.
Consequently, Kenny strangled Peter and Ted to death and disposed of the bodies. After both victims’ bodies were discovered, it was hard to connect them to Howard until the information was shared by Bruce Wolosky, who was himself on the verge of being kidnapped before the intervention from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(ATF). A lengthy legal procedure followed as Howard was set to be tried in the federal court and California.
Where is Howard Bloomgarden Now?
In 1996, Howard Bloomgarden decided to take the plea deal at the federal level by admitting to having ordered the killings of Peter Kovach and Ted Gould. Due to this confession, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison. However, this admission did not help the authorities within Los Angeles county. Firstly, it was argued that Howard should not face a trial again to avoid double jeopardy. To this, the California state insisted that the conviction was only for the “travel in aid of racketeering” charge and did not include any murder charges, which allowed Howard’s trial in California trial to go forward.
Nonetheless, the 1996 confession that the Los Angeles county prosecutors were banking on was declared inadmissible. A judge stated that Howard’s 6th amendment rights were violated as his defense team did not offer him the proper counsel. The judge pointed out that they failed to recognize the consequences of the confession in California, where the trial could lead to capital punishment. After much effort on behalf of the state attorneys, the testimony of Ruben Hernandez, and a statement given by George Kuney (the boyfriend of Susan Bloomgarden, Howard’s sister), the prosecutors made a good case.
On May 15, 2014, Howard was declared guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of kidnapping. This was followed by his being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on June 3, 2016. Later, in October 2019, Howard’s appeal to count the Los Angeles trial as double jeopardy was rejected based on California’s sovereignty, the severity of his crimes, and the intent behind the same. As of writing, the 55-year-old former drug businessman is incarcerated at USP Marion in Illinois. He is scheduled to leave the federal prison on February 13, 2024, after which he will likely continue his life sentence in a correctional facility in California.