Feds poised to hook Fryingpan fishing retreat
100-acre property under scrutiny as part of case against Houston billionaire
An investigation into what is purportedly the largest tax-fraud scam in U.S. history has led federal authorities to a 3,900-square-foot fishing retreat nestled in the upper Fryingpan River Valley.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture complaint Thursday connecting billionaire Houston businessman Robert Brockman to the ownership of a 100-acre property, which a limited liability corporation acquired for $5 million in December 2010. Brockman used $15 million in ill-gotten gains, the complaint alleged, to buy and improve the property through the LLC.
Through the civil-forfeiture action, the government is attempting to take control of the residence. Brockman, however, is not named as a defendant in the complaint. Instead it identifies both the property address, 121 Ash Road, and $77.8 million in already-frozen money in a Switzerland-based Mirabaud Bank account that Brockman controls.
“The property is titled in the name of Henke Property, LLC,” said the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in Denver. “Henke Property, LLC, on paper, is 100% owned by Henke Holdings, LLC. Both entities were formed in Colorado on September 7, 2005, at the direction of Brockman.”
U.S. Assistant Attorney Tonya Andrews, who is based in the Denver office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, filed the complaint. She declined Thursday to comment on the case, or whether feds are considering taking similar action against Brockman’s Aspen home.
Thursday’s court action comes after Brockman, 79, was indicted in October for devising a $2 billion scheme to conceal income he made on his investments in private equity funds from the IRS. He has pleaded not guilty to all 39 charges, among them tax evasion, wire fraud and money laundering.
On the same date the indictment of Brockman was made public — Oct. 15 — the Department of Justice announced it had reached a deal with Robert F. Smith, accused of hiding $200 million in income from the IRS. As part of the non-prosecution agreement, Smith, who with Brockman’s financial support started the private equity firm Vista Equity Partner in San Francisco, also agreed to assist feds in their investigation into Brockman. Smith also paid $139 million in taxes, in addition to other penalties.
In the meantime, prosecutors in Thursday’s civil filing said Brockman funneled payments of $250,000 and $4.7 million through a Bermuda bank account to buy the Fryingpan property in December 2010.
Another $10.55 million in wire transfers were made from May 2011 through August 2014, also through the Bermuda account, into a Wells Fargo account controlled by Henke LLC, the complaint said. The three-lot property, which comprises 99.8 acres, according to Eagle County property records, includes a main 3,894-square-foot home and a guest residence.
Brockman is the founder and former CEO of Dayton, Ohio-based Reynolds and Reynolds Co., which sells business software to auto dealerships.
He also owns a 5,811-square-foot home on 38 acres of land in east Aspen through Mountain Queen Inc., which acquired the property for $9.15 million in March 2003. The property and home, which was constructed in 2004, has a current actual value of $14 million, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office.
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