Brooks used front company to finance horses, prosecutor says

Former DHB executive David Brooks arrives at court.

Former DHB executive David Brooks arrives at court. (June 2009) (Credit: James Carbone)

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A federal prosecutor charged Wednesday that David Brooks set up a front company to illegally siphon off millions of dollars from his body-armor business to pay for his stable of more than 100 trotting horses.

The alleged front company, Tactical Armor Products, or TAP, was ostensibly owned and operated by Brooks' former wife, Terry Brooks, but actually was in the total control of Brooks, Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Ott said in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

The TAP plant in Tennessee did provide material for Brooks' body-armor company, the Westbury-based DHB Industries, but at vastly inflated prices, Ott and court documents say.

While the TAP manufacturing plant was in Tennessee, the company's administrative office was in a small space in Westbury, near DHB, according to a government witness, Elinore Kaye, the bookkeeper for TAP from 2002 to 2006.

Kaye testified that all major decisions about TAP, including the payroll checks for each employee in Tennessee, had to be approved personally by David Brooks.

During Kaye's testimony, Ott reeled off to her a list of 100 people and companies, including veterinarians, horse trainers, grooms and hay providers. Kaye said she was familiar with the names because TAP had written checks to them at Brooks' orders.

Defense attorneys have argued that TAP was actually a private company owned by Terry Brooks, and that the written authorizations to issue checks were initialed or signed off on by lower-level employees of TAP, not David Brooks.

Some details of the alleged scheme to support Brooks' horse-racing interest were contained in his indictment, but the overall details of the alleged scheme have come out only in the court proceedings. Brooks is charged with fraud and obstruction of justice in various schemes that resulted in looting DHB of about $190 million.

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