Billionaire Brockman’s Mind Sharp Enough for Tax Trial, U.S. Expert Says
(Bloomberg) -- A prominent forensic psychiatrist testified that billionaire Robert Brockman is feigning dementia as a “magic bullet” to avoid trial on charges of evading taxes on $2 billion in income.
Brockman, 80, is in cognitive decline but he’s exaggerating his impairment and his mind remains sharp enough to understand the charges against him, Park Dietz told U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. on Friday in Houston. Hanks has been conducting a weeklong hearing to determine if Brockman is competent to stand trial.
Dietz, a California-based psychiatrist, said he was on a team of government medical experts who interviewed Brockman, including in May 2021, before making his assessment. Brockman talked in detail then about tax matters, the charges against him and how easy it would be to fabricate emails, Dietz said.
“I did not think it was even a close call whether he was competent to stand trial at that time,” Dietz said. Brockman “has extreme motivation to avoid prosecution,” and claiming dementia “could be the magic bullet for escaping the consequences of any criminal conduct,” the psychiatrist said.
Dietz appeared on the fifth day of the competency hearing, which will continue next week. Once it’s concluded, Hanks is expected to rule about two months later.
Brockman’s attorneys say he has progressive dementia caused by Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, and he’s unable to help his defense. Government experts and witnesses testified that Brockman, the former chief executive officer of Reynolds & Reynolds, which makes software for auto dealers, is exaggerating his symptoms.
While insisting that Brockman is competent, Dietz said the billionaire likely suffers from “mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia” that’s “progressive and irreversible,” and “he’s not going to get better.” Defense experts have emphasized the progressive nature of his impairment, stressing that Brockman’s dementia is so far advanced that he can’t understand the complex case against him.
Brockman’s consistently low scores on cognitive tests didn’t match up with the intelligence he showed in emails, legal depositions, public speeches and medical interviews, Dietz said.
Over the past four decades, Dietz has been involved in trials of some the most high-profile defendants, including serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Kaczynski and Richard Kuklinski. He’s also been retained by Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of trafficking teen girls for sex with her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein.
Under questioning by a defense lawyer, Dietz was grilled about his testimony in the 2002 trial of Andrea Yates, who was convicted of drowning her five children. Dietz had erroneously said that the television crime drama Law & Order aired an episode with similar facts. Yates’s conviction was overturned based on Dietz’s error.
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