Tech Mogul in Biggest U.S. Tax Case Facing Dementia, Lawyers Say
Robert Brockman, the software executive charged in the largest tax case against a U.S. individual, is facing progressive dementia that will render him unable to help in his defense, according to a legal filing citing his doctors.
Brockman, 79, was indicted on tax evasion and money laundering charges that accused him of using a complex trust structure in the Caribbean to hide $2 billion in income over two decades. His lawyers want his case moved from San Francisco, where he was indicted on Oct. 1, to Houston, where he lives and his doctors treat him.
In a filing late Monday, physicianJames L. Pool said Brockman has symptoms consistent with Parkinson’s disease, parkinsonism, Lewy body dementia, or some combination of them. The diagnosis can only be “totally confirmed” with an autopsy, but each results in rigid muscles, slow movements and tremors, according to Pool, a pharmacology professor at theBaylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“All are characterized by progressive dementia, and in Mr. Brockman’s case, the medical reports confirm cognitive impairment, which includes, but is not limited to, both short and long term memory loss,” according to Pool’s declaration.
Brockman’s condition renders his “long-term memory inaccessible and defective,” according to the filing. “For these reasons, I concur with the medical position that Mr. Brockman cannot assist his attorneys in his defense.”
U.S. District Judge William Alsup will hold a hearing Tuesday to consider Brockman’s request to move his case to Houston. Brockman’s lawyers have also said they’ll seek acompetency hearing for Brockman. The Justice Department can present its own medical experts to refute Brockman’s claims. Alsup has directed lawyers in the case to file their papers on that matter by Dec. 8.
Prosecutors have said they oppose a venue change. A spokesman for the Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the Monday filing by Brockman’s legal team.
Brockman, the former chief executive officer ofReynolds & Reynolds Co., a maker of software for auto dealers, has pleaded not guilty. He was the first investor two decades ago in billionaire Robert Smith’s initial private equity fund, eventually putting up $1 billion.
Read More: Houston Tech Mogul Indicted for ‘Largest-Ever Tax Charge’
Smith, the chief executive officer ofVista Equity Partners,avoided prosecution after agreeing to cooperate against Brockman. Smith he admitted he evaded $43 million in taxes from 2005 through 2014, prosecutors said. Both men hid money from the Internal Revenue Service by using Swiss bank accounts and secretive Caribbean trust structures initially set up by the same Houston lawyer, according to prosecutors.
Another witness against Brockman is Evatt Tamine, an Australian lawyer who worked with him in Bermuda. The filing on Monday included an October 2018 immunity agreement in which Tamine agreed to cooperate against Brockman and Smith.
Prosecutors are expected to oppose the claim by Brockman’s lawyers that he is not competent to stand trial, and the legal burden for establishing that is high.
In their filing, Brockman’s lawyers said that three doctors affiliated with Baylor have confirmed Pool’s findings about his medical condition. Each will testify in a hearing to determine whether Brockman is capable of assisting in his defense, according to the filing.
Defense lawyers will call other witnesses, including his wife and colleagues, to establish that Brockman has “demonstrable cognitive and memory challenges,” according to a filing by one of his attorneys, Kathryn Keneally.
At a court hearing on Nov. 17, defense lawyer Neal Stephens said the case against Brockman involves 22 million pages of documents. The judge, who has set a trial date of next Nov. 15, said he was considering a venue change even before reading all the legal filings on the question.
At that hearing, Brockman’s lawyers didn’t address the question of his competency. Rather, they said the government’s indictment didn’t show that Brockman filed his tax returns in the Northern District of California. Alsup said the rising coronavirus pandemic could force a slowdown in trials.
“I’m sure the government wouldn’t mind trying this case in Houston, Texas,” Alsup said. “They got fair-minded jurors down there, just like they do here. So it might be better if Mr. Brockman did want a speedy trial. Now, if he does not want a speedy trial, then all this is really just delay. Delay city. And I don’t care for that.”
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