MIAMI — In exchange for a fishing boat named "Dream Girl,'' Richard Wolfferts told police, he planted the car bomb that infamously maimed a Miami divorce lawyer in 1989.
He would spend five years in prison for the crime.
This month, Wolfferts was back in court, now facing new charges he helped smuggle cocaine to Miami in hollowed-out pumpkins. But the 67-year-old beat the rap, claiming suspected drug cash was actually intended to buy a new fishing boat dubbed "The Resurrection.''
"Richard is a man who has paid for his sins of the past. This time, he wasn't involved,'' defense lawyer Terry Lenamon said. ``He wants to live what's left of his life fishing and trying to do the right thing.''
Back in 1989, Wolfferts -- once nicknamed Rambo -- planted the car bomb that partially paralyzed divorce lawyer Gino P. Negretti. Wolfferts told Miami police that he was under orders from Victor Seijas, whose wife Negretti represented in a bitter divorce.
With Wolfferts as the star witness, Dade jurors acquitted Seijas in 1994. Seijas reconciled with his wife.
Wolfferts, now living in Key Largo, has paid his debt to society, Lenamon said.
His run of notoriety started on Dec. 16, 1989 -- when Negretti's gray Cadillac exploded as he left home for church. The blast maimed his left hand and limited movement in his right arm.
Wolfferts was known for wearing camouflage and collecting machine guns and crossbows. He was pals with Seijas, a disgraced Miami cop turned dope dealer.
Dade prosecutors struck a deal with Wolfferts: five years in prison in exchange for testimony against Seijas. The prison time ran concurrent to a lengthy federal prison term in an unrelated marijuana trafficking case.
At trial, Wolfferts testified that Seijas wanted Negretti dead because the lawyer made him look like ``an animal'' in divorce court.
Wolfferts admitted to planting the pipe bomb. His payment: the fishing boat. But Wolfferts insisted he felt bad so he placed the device under the passenger seat to minimize the explosion.
But defense lawyers Jack Blumenfeld and Richard Sharpstein contended that Wolfferts was lying to shave time off his federal prison term.
``He was completely vicious and frightening,'' Sharpstein remembered Monday. ``He was scary to the jury. They totally rejected his testimony.''
Wolfferts remained in federal prison until August 2005.
In September, a grand jury indicted Wolfferts and seven others for various cocaine trafficking charges. The DEA investigation was dubbed ``Operation Melon Smasher.''
Prosecutors claimed the group made large shipments of cocaine from Panama in hollowed-out pumpkins. Initially, Wolfferts was accused of traveling to Panama four times to bring back more than $200,000 in cash tied to the deals.
But two co-defendants later told federal authorities that Wolfferts knew nothing of the cocaine enterprise, lawyer Lenamon said, and Wolfferts was simply getting money to fund a new commercial fishing operation.
The remaining co-defendants pleaded guilty this month. Wolfferts was released Dec. 9 and visited his lawyer bearing gifts.
"The next day, Richard brought back to my office 20 fresh stone crabs,'' Lenamon said.