David Brooks: New judge should decide restitution

David Brooks leaves the federal courthouse in Central David Brooks leaves the federal courthouse in Central Islip. (Jan. 18, 2008) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A Westbury businessman convicted of looting his body-armor company to fund an extravagant lifestyle has asked for a new federal judge to determine how much restitution he'll pay his victims, according to court documents.

David Brooks, who was sentenced in August to 17 years in prison for wildly inflating the stock price of his company and padding his pockets to the tune of $185 million, has asked that U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert to be removed from the case because he says there is a possibility that she developed a bias against Brooks during an investigation into whether the businessman made threats against the judge.

In a motion for recusal filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Dec. 27, Brooks' attorney David Goldstein said the government did not inform him that the U.S. attorney's office, the U.S. Marshals' Service and the FBI investigated an alleged threat made by Brooks against the judge until several months later. Seybert, the documents allege, was aware of the alleged threat as she presided over Brooks' criminal trial on charges of insider trading, fraud, obstruction of justice and lying to auditors.

Seybert, who sentenced Brooks on his 2010 conviction to substantially less time than the 30 years requested by prosecutors, is scheduled to rule at a future hearing on how much money Brooks will pay in restitution to his victims. But Brooks and his attorney said in court papers that Seybert should recuse herself from the case.

In the motion, Goldstein said the defense was "not told that the threat allegation had no basis -- that the defendant had not in fact threatened the judge's life or safety -- until eight months later. This raises serious questions regarding bias and the appearance of bias during those eight months."

Goldstein did not return a message Wednesday seeking comment. Neither a spokesman for the U.S. District Court nor Seybert could be reached Wednesday.

The substance and circumstances of the alleged threat are unclear, but in an affidavit accompanying the motion for recusal, Brooks said the government "investigated allegations that I discussed physically harming your honor, members of the prosecution team and current members of the defense team," which Brooks called "salacious allegations" that were "never found to be credible."

In addition to his prison sentence, Seybert ordered Brooks to pay a fine of $8.7 million and serve five years' supervised release after prison. She also ordered him to pay about $60 million in forfeiture to the government.

Brooks' company, DHB Industries, manufactured most of the body armor for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brooks was accused of draining $6 million from the company to fund his own lifestyle, including flights to Nantucket for dinner.

Subscribe to the Newsday Now newsletter for the latest top stories, photos and videos about your community and the rest of Long Island.

You also may be interested in: