It hasn’t been the best couple of weeks for the reputation of professional backgammon player Rod Covlin.
First, after years of suspicion, authorities charged Covlin with strangling his estranged wife to death in 2009, in an effort to collect on her million-dollar estate. Covlin allegedly left his wife’s body in a bathtub where their 9-year-old daughter would discover it the following morning.
Then, on Monday, prosecutors said Covlin had cultivated another terrifying surprise for his child four years later: an arranged marriage to a Mexican stranger. At a bail hearing for Covlin Monday night, prosecutors played a taped phone call in which the defendant discussed plans to marry off his 13-year-old daughter to a Mexican man, in a bizarre attempt to steal the $1 million trust fund her mother had left her.
“The defendant comes up with a plan to kidnap his 13-year-old daughter, take her to Mexico, and pay some Mexican $10,000 to marry her so that she’ll no longer be a minor,” prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos said, according to the New York Daily News.
“Some Mexican law firm can handle it, make sure it gets done properly,” Covlin said to an unidentified confidant in the recording, the paper reports.
Covlin’s lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, apparently didn’t deny that his client had tried to pay a random Mexican man to marry his middle-school-age daughter. Instead, Gottlieb argued that Covlin did so with the best of intentions, not in an attempt to take his daughter’s money but rather to alleviate her depression. Per the Daily News:
Gottlieb told Wittner that it was the chatter of a “desperate” man who’d lost custody of his kids and knew his daughter was suicidal over her situation. He said the children wanted to live with him after their mother’s passing but were stuck with his parents in Westchester.
“He did something that looking back even Mr. Covlin would say obviously he shouldn’t have done, but it was not, again, money … it was to protect his children,” he argued.
The recording, along with other assorted evidence of Covlin’s scheming and general creepiness — including a well-documented proclivity for “poking” visibly underage girls on Facebook — convinced Justice Bonnie Wittner to order that the defendant be held without bail.