Brockman attorneys say he lacks competence, feds cite Aspen trip
Attorneys for Aspen homeowner Robert Brockman are asking a federal judge to determine whether he’s competent enough to assist in his defense against charges he engineered a $2 billion tax fraud scheme.
Brockman’s attorneys in recent filings have said he suffers from dementia and his condition is worsening.
“At bottom, Mr. Brockman cannot do the one thing that is most essential to his defense: understand his lawyers about the events at issue and reliably respond,” said a motion filed Dec. 8 in San Francisco federal court, the venue for the criminal charges against Brockman, 79.
Brockman’s defense attorneys also filed a motion Nov. 30 seeking a change of venue from San Francisco to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The travel to San Francisco would put a strain on Brockman, who lives in Houston full-time, argued the international law firm Jones Day in recent court filings.
Federal prosecutors, however, want San Francisco to remain the venue and are not persuaded that the travel would place an undue burden on Brockman.
In a Dec. 7 filing, U.S. prosecutors said private jet records from 2019 showed Brockman traveled to Aspen “for a routine, annual three-month trip to a vacation home for the summer.” The government cited other examples of Brockman’s travels last year, which included an annual fishing trip to Alaska and an annual hunting trip in Cordoba, Argentina.
“This travel history is difficult to square with the Motion’s suggestion that the trip from Houston to San Francisco for trial would be a hardship,” prosecutors argued in last week’s filing.
Doctors diagnosed Brockman with dementia in 2018, his attorneys said in court papers.
San Francisco is from where a federal jury Oct. 15 returned a 39-count indictment charging Brockman with tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering and other offenses. It also is the home town of Brockman’s firm that allegedly hid his offshore investments.
“According to the indictment, Brockman, a resident of Houston, Texas, and Pitkin County, Colorado, used a web of offshore entities based in Bermuda and Nevis to hide from the IRS income earned on his investments in private equity funds which were managed by a San Francisco-based investment firm,” said a news release the U.S. Department of Justice issued in October. “As part of the alleged scheme, Brockman directed untaxed capital gains income to secret bank accounts in Bermuda and Switzerland. The indictment further alleges that to execute the fraud, between 1999 and 2019, Brockman took measures such as backdating records and using encrypted communications and code words to communicate with a co-conspirator, among other alleged actions.”
A hearing is scheduled Jan. 12 to determine whether Brockman is competent to stand trial and understand the charges.
“Mr. Brockman’s doctors have concluded that his medical condition makes him unable to access information, renders him unable to make connections between questions that he is being asked and his recollection of events, and manifests as significant long- and short-term memory deficiencies,” Brockman’s attorneys argued.
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The Pitkin County Restaurant Alliance will have to wait until Feb. 19 before it can make its case to a judge to lift the Red-level public health order banning indoor dining.