‘Gay porn twin’ talks life post-prison
by Jen Colletta
Jul 10, 2014 | 1302 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE GOFFNEY TWINS
THE GOFFNEY TWINS
slideshow
This is the second in a two-part series.

“Money injects you with stupidity. I felt like it was never gonna end.”

But Taleon Goffney’s crime spree did end, on Feb. 19, 2008, a night that he says changed the trajectory of his life.

An end to the spree

In the weeks leading up to the burglary of Moon’s Beauty Shop and the adjoining Wings and More in South Philadelphia, Goffney and his twin brother, Keyontyli, had begun targeting businesses that could net them a bigger payout.

Goffney’s girlfriend at the time was pregnant, and he said he was looking for larger-scale, more sophisticated burglaries to plan for the future.

“She was pregnant so I was trying to think realistic. I had to get out of that super-criminal mindstate,” Goffney said. “So I told Keyon we had to slow it down and go for the bigger jobs. Check-cashing places; they got big money — 20, 30 grand — and we needed six figures to take us outta the game because we were spending it so fast.”

Goffney did his usual casing of the adjoining businesses, located at Ninth Street and Washington Avenue, a few weeks prior. Then, the night of the burglary, he dropped his car off in a parking garage at Juniper and Wharton streets and rode to the shop with his brother.

The twins were equipped with two-way radios, and Keyontyli waited in the car while Goffney mounted the roof and cut his way into the two adjoining businesses. Within about an hour, he said, he had breached both ATMs and was getting ready to head back out.

“I had maybe about 12 grand on me — it wasn’t as much as I expected — and I was like, ‘Keyon, I’m coming up,’ and I hear the chirp from the radio and just heard him say, ‘Run, they got me.’ I get up to the roof and I can see the cops surrounding the car,” he said. “So I took off running like this [demonstrates], jumping roofs. I jumped down and hid my toolbag in someone’s garbage. I took my hoodie off and wrapped the money into like a pouch and stuffed it under a car. As long as they didn’t get those things, and my brother kept his mouth shut, we were cool.”

Goffney said he blended into the late-night/early-morning crowd of patrons at Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks, adjacent from each other at Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue. At one point, a police officer walked by him, within inches, he said.

Goffney thought he was in the clear. But, when he went back to the lot later that morning to retrieve his car, he was surrounded.

Even as he was being taken in, Goffney said, he didn’t grasp the severity of the situation.

“I thought, the toolbag’s gone, the money’s gone, they don’t have anything. And when I was in trouble before, from 2006-08, I had a public defender — we called them public pretenders. But once you got money, the rules changed. I felt like, I have money, I can pay lawyers and it’s fine. That was my mentality. I felt like money could fix everything. Even though I was in more trouble than I could have ever imagined, I thought money could fix it.”

But, when he arrived at the detective division and saw his twin, he started to grasp how wrong he was.

“I came in and looked to my left and saw my brother and he just went like this [shakes head] and I knew. We’re twins, we have that connection,” he said. “I’d been in trouble with the cops before; my brother had never been in that situation. He wasn’t ready for that. They grabbed him, drilled him and he talked.”

Goffney said Keyontyli’s eight-page confession sealed the deal on his own fate.

“My lawyer came in and said, ‘I have bad news.’ And he pulled out this manila envelope with an eight-page statement with his signature. He told them everything about me, that I was the mastermind, everything. He was scared, but damn. My twin? I’d never seen it coming.”

Behind bars

Goffney faced a slew of charges, from this and other burglaries. He ultimately pleaded guilty to such charges as burglary, criminal conspiracy, resisting arrest and criminal mischief and was sentenced to three-eight years in prison.

The intense media coverage of the twins’ case prompted stories about Goffney’s past in gay porn to circulate among his fellow inmates — and to estrange him from them. “I don’t consider myself gay but because of what happened, I suffered a gay man’s adversity,” he said.

He said men would exit the showers when he would enter, seemingly afraid he would make advances. Inmates frequently flung antigay epithets at him, and he often ate meals alone.

“Nobody wanted to sit next to the ‘faggot.’”

While the antigay animus was pervasive, so too was support from the LGBT community.

“When I got locked up, my friends left, some family left, but the gay community always stuck up for me,” Goffney said. “People in the community sent me mail, money, magazines. They were encouraging me, ‘You can do this, you can do this.’ I did six years and even five-and-a-half years in, I was still getting letters from people in the gay community. They really stuck by me.”

Goffney noted that the experience gave him a better understanding of the attitudes his brother, and other LGBT people, have faced.

“People act like being gay is a terminal illness. And it has nothing to do with your character. My brother’s life was hard because he’s gay, and my life was hard at that time because I was lumped in with him. But that’s been hard for him his whole life.”

But, for the first half of his sentence, Goffney said, he harbored intense resentment about Keyontyli’s confession.

Keyontyli negotiated a plea deal and was sentenced to two days in prison, which he already served, and four-years’ probation.

The rift between the brothers extended to their family. His mother, who was also arrested for conspiracy connected to the twins’ burglaries, would come to visit him in prison, Goffney said, and they’d get into arguments if she mentioned she spoke to Keyontyli.

“It was dividing my family,” he said. “I was like, ‘Mom, why do you speak to him? He ratted on me, and on you.’ And she was like, ‘He’s not strong like you.’”

The divide remained until Goffney got a letter from his twin, about three years into his prison term.

“He wrote me out of the blue. He said that his intent wasn’t to hurt me, that he was just scared. I mean they were slamming on the desk, yanking on his neck when they were interrogating him. I had to just let it go. He’s my twin; we’re one minute apart. I knew he didn’t do it out of malice or to try to injure me; he was scared. But that was the hardest part of prison — trying to get over that my brother ratted me out.”

Mending fences with his twin was among the many evolutions Goffney said he went through while locked up.

In one sense, he said, he’s grateful for his six years behind bars.

“As much as I hate to say it, if I didn’t do that much time, the way that money was, I probably would have gone right back out and done it again,” he said. “Before, I may get two or three months and I’d just think it was worth it for the $20 thousand I got. I’d just go out and try to make up the money. The money had me cocky. But by my third year in, I knew I couldn’t do that anymore.”

Goffney entered prison at 25 and said he met many men younger than he was who were going to be spending the rest of their lives in jail.

“I was talking to this kid who was 18 years old and he had a life sentence. He doesn’t even know what a lifetime means,” Goffney said. “And I would be talking to lifers, and they’d say to me, ‘You’re a bright kid, you don’t belong in here.’”

Also resonating were the words of his sentencing judge, who sought to illustrate to him that, if he returned to his criminal ways, the court would throw the book at him.

His record as a seven-time convicted felon is not an enviable epithet — or one that he wants to expand upon.

“I’ve been convicted in front of seven judges: Sentence, sentence, sentence, sentence. There ain’t gonna be a next time for me.”

Even his late grandmother played a role in convincing him to turn his life around once he was released, Goffney said.

“My grandma used to say something when she was alive. She would say to me, ‘You, your brother and your mother, all of you, if you put just as much effort into doing the right thing as you do into doing wrong, ya’ll would be rich.’ She died while I was in prison. I had to say goodbye over the phone,” he said. “But after all these years, I finally get it. The brain power it took behind something like what I did ... She was right.”

Looking for a new life

It is his grandmother’s voice, Goffney said, that he hears when he’s tempted.

Since being released in April, he said he has found himself in stores, eyeing up the ATM and thinking about how easy it would be to break open.

“That happened the other day and I was like, Oh man,” he laughed. “But I think about what my grandmom said and just repeat it. Put the effort into doing the right thing. That’s what I’m doing.”

Goffney and Keyontyli, who is modeling in California, have teamed with a Pennsylvania-based production company, Twiintone Entertainment, to help share their story.

Twiintone is helmed by twins Troy and Trevor Parham — who happen to be police officers — and who worked with the Goffneys on a screenplay for a movie they’re hoping to produce, and possibly star in, about the Goffneys’ lives.

Goffney has put out several spoken-word videos on Youtube, which offer words about overcoming adversity.

In “Higher Aim,” made the day he got out of jail, Goffney talked frankly about his crimes, directing his monologue to young people whose backgrounds may also lead them to the streets.

“It looks good; the girls look good, the money looks good, the friends look good. But when I went to prison, I went by myself,” he said.

“I don’t want people to lose confidence, because I did,” he said about his hope for reaching youth with his message. “My brother and I were so proud of ourselves when we were younger. We were each other’s best motivators and kept each other sharp. But somewhere along the line, that got lost.”

Gaining that confidence back is no easy task.

A simple Google search of Goffney’s name brings up dozens of pages of news stories about the burglaries, and about the porn.

“Every girl I date Googles me. You think I’m gonna get a return phone call? You can’t hide with the Internet. My brother’s modeling under a false name now. We’re trying to hide. I don’t want to walk around with this shame. But I gave away my self-respect. I lost it in a day. And it’s gonna take years to get back.”

Time has become a strange specter in his life, Goffney said. Having spent more than nine-and-a-half years in prison from ages 18-32, he missed out on most of his 20s.

He said he’s trying to “not play catch-up” with that time but can’t help imagining what he would have done with those years, had he not taken the dark turn he did.

“I was an artist. I could draw you, the way you look, every hair. I was a karate champion. I let it all go.”

If the last decade were different, Goffney said, he could picture his brother having a successful modeling career in Europe and himself married with children, coaching a sports team.

“I like seeing people win,” he said.

He hasn’t lost hope of himself winning. Goffney said he eventually sees that future he had planned coming to fruition.

But, for now, he’s focusing on using his story to put his grandmother’s advice into practice — doing right for himself, and for others.

“I worry about money now. But then I think about those guys in jail who are never coming out, that 18-year-old. He’s never coming back out. Was the money really worth that much? Was it really worth the gay porn? I’d give it all back for my self-respect. You can’t lose faith in yourself. That’s richer than money. That’s richer than friends. That’s richer than everything.”

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