Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Prosecutors face off with Bob Brockman defense team as competency hearing begins


HOUSTON — Federal prosecutors and attorneys for Bob Brockman outlined their cases Monday in a Houston courtroom as a hearing began to determine whether the former Reynolds and Reynolds Co. CEO is competent to stand trial on charges of tax evasion.

The competency hearing, expected to last a week, is intended to assess whether Brockman, 80, can assist in his defense against charges of tax evasion and wire fraud. Brockman walked into the hearing and sat at the end of the defense team’s table.

In opening statements Monday, prosecutors outlined “the extraordinary lengths that a man is willing to go to evade accountability,” and said Brockman had both the motivation and capacity to malinger, or fake symptoms, to avoid prosecution.

Prosecutor Lee Langston told U.S. District Judge George Hanks Jr. in his opening statement that understanding Brockman’s motivation and capacity requires a broader look at both the evidence against him in the government’s criminal case and at the juxtaposition between the image presented in doctors’ exam rooms and the life he lived outside of those rooms.

That includes, he said, Brockman’s continued work as CEO of privately held dealership management system giant Reynolds and Reynolds until after he was indicted in October 2020 and after his symptoms were said to have appeared.

“The evidence will clearly show that the defendant has been living a double life for years,” Langston said.

In a court filing last week, Brockman’s lawyers wrote that “recent neuroimaging and testing supports that Mr. Brockman has either or a combination of Parkinson’s disease dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” and that the dementia is “permanent, progressive and incurable.”

Brockman attorney Kathy Keneally said during her opening statement Monday that the discussion of past events in the government’s case, as prosecutors outlined, is not the question on the table during the competency hearing.

“The question is can Bob Brockman assist today, going forward, through a trial in this case,” Keneally said.

She said Brockman doesn’t recall what his attorneys tell him, including discussions of a course of action that Brockman can’t remember several days later.

“There’s only one issue before the court at this hearing: Can Bob Brockman today understand criminal proceedings that have been brought against him and assist his counsel in his defense?” she said. “Does Bob have the sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyers with a reasonable degree of rational understanding? Can Bob today and going forward participate in a meaningful way in his defense? He can not.”

Brockman was indicted in October 2020 on 39 federal counts, including tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering and evidence tampering, in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme lasting two decades to evade taxes on $2 billion in income.

Prosecutors also allege Brockman defrauded investors in Reynolds and Reynolds’ debt. He pleaded not guilty.

Brockman stepped down from his roles as chairman and CEO of Dayton, Ohio-based Reynolds in November 2020.

The competency hearing will determine whether Brockman can assist with his defense for the case to proceed to trial, not whether Brockman was competent at the time of the alleged offenses.

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