The $101,000 jewel-encrusted belt buckle was not body-armor manufacturer David Brooks' only bling, federal prosecutors said Wednesday at Brooks' fraud trial.
Federal prosecutors introduced a photo showing Brooks bedecked in what they say is $211,000 worth of jewelry - not only the belt buckle but also a $35,000 gold ring and a $75,000 gold neck chain ending in a dagger-shaped pendant.
The jewelry, worn at a 2004 company holiday party, was purchased with money illegally looted from his former company, DHB Industries, federal prosecutors said in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. The company, formerly based in Westbury, was one of the nation's largest manufacturers of body armor for the military and law enforcement.
Only the belt buckle was highlighted two years ago when Brooks was arrested on charges of using $5 million in company funds to support a luxurious lifestyle and making an additional $185 million through a stock scheme. But the ring and dagger chain are among the evidence prosecutors have now introduced in Brooks' trial, which entered its fourth day Wednesday.
Brooks' lead attorney, Kenneth Ravenell of Baltimore, said his client is not guilty and that Brooks has a 1997 employment contract entitling him to compensation for private expenses. Ravenell also maintains that there is nothing illegal about Brooks' earning close to $200 million in 2004 by selling his share of company stock.
Among Wednesday's government witnesses was Mark Burton, operator of a Wisconsin equine dietary supplement company, who testified that checks from Brooks' various manufacturing companies had paid for tens of thousands of dollars of nutritional supplements for Brooks' stable of trotting horses.
Another witness who is scheduled to resume cross-examination Thursday is retired four-star Army Gen. Larry Ellis. Ellis testified that although Brooks recruited him for the DHB board and he became president of the company, major financial decisions were still made by Brooks. Ellis said that because of various problems with the company's operations, he eventually joined in a board decision to remove Brooks as chief executive.
Earlier this week, government witnesses testified that Brooks' companies paid $7,900 for plastic surgery for Brooks' former wife, Terry, and $37,000 for 225 leather-bound invitations to the 2000 bar mitzvah of Brooks' son Andrew.
The $3-million bar mitzvah got little publicity. The $8-million 2005 bat mitzvah for one of Brooks' daughters was widely publicized in the media.
Among the charges against Brooks is that he siphoned $122,000 from DHB to pay for gifts at the bat mitzvah.