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Judge warns lawyers probing witness' sex life

Former DHB chief financial officer Dawn Schlegel leaves

Former DHB chief financial officer Dawn Schlegel leaves federal court in Central Islip earlier this month. As a witness for the prosecution, she is under fire from the defense team of her former DHB boss David Brooks who is charged with looting the body armor company. (March 17, 2010) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A federal judge Thursday warned attorneys at the fraud trial of David Brooks, the former Westbury body armor manufacturer, to stop dwelling on the intimate relationships of the key government witness.

"This trial is not about Mrs. Schlegel's sex life. This is a trial about fraud," U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert said after the jury had left for the day.

Seybert's remarks came after a defense attorney tried unsuccessfully to get Dawn Schlegel to admit she lied when she said she had only a one-night stand in 2003 with a fellow employee of Brooks' DHB Industries.

Schlegel, who was the company's chief financial officer, has provided voluminous testimony supporting the government's case that Brooks engaged in massive fraud.

Brooks' lead attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, repeatedly tried to get Schlegel to acknowledge that she had had a longer sexual relationship with the employee or another person named "Joe." But Schlegel never budged, seemingly alternately puzzled or distraught, as she responded with answers such as, "No, never" and "No Joe . . . been no other."

During his earlier questioning of Schlegel in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, federal prosecutor Christopher Ott had briefly gotten her to acknowledge that during a time she and her husband had marital difficulties, she had the one-night stand.

Schlegel said that she and the colleague had kissed sometimes over a period of a month, but that she had had an intimate sexual encounter with him for only one night.

Schlegel said she immediately felt remorse about the situation, broke it off and told her husband about it. She and her husband eventually resolved their problems and are still married, Schlegel said.

Federal prosecutors apparently brought up the topic in their direct examination of Schlegel in an attempt to neutralize the effect it might have on jurors if Brooks' defense team had brought it up first.

In her remarks to the attorneys, Seybert, apparently thinking things were getting out of hand, said she had allowed the introduction of the relationship between Schlegel and the colleague only because of the possible bearing it might have on the fraud case.

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