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Prosecutor: Brooks picked witness 'to cook the books'

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 prosecutor attempted Thursday to turn a key point of the defense of David Brooks against the former body-armor magnate by saying that a repeatedly castigated government witness had, in effect, been selected by Brooks himself.

Speaking of the witness, Dawn Schlegel, federal prosecutor Christopher Caffarone said: "We didn't pick her. He picked her to cook the books."

Schlegel, the former chief financial officer of Brooks' onetime Westbury-based DHB Industries, was hired by Brooks shortly after she graduated from Hofstra University in Hempstead. She became a government witness against Brooks, after working out a plea deal in which she faces 10 years in prison for conspiracy instead of 75.

Brooks' lead attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, had hammered Schlegel's character in his closing defense summary earlier in the week at the federal court in Central Islip.

Ravenell, who had many of the jurors laughing as he mocked inconsistencies in Schlegel's testimony, maintained that she repeatedly lied on the witness stand.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Caffarone, in the government's rebuttal of Brooks' defense summation, asserted that most of Schlegel's most damaging testimony against Brooks was backed either by DHB documents or the testimony of other witnesses.

Further, Schlegel was a principal actor in the frauds that Brooks is accused of committing before she agreed to cooperate with the government, Caffarone said.

Caffarone also said that company documents in her own handwriting showed Brooks' co-defendant, Sandra Hatfield, the former chief operating officer of DHB, was also involved in the frauds. Brooks is charged with illegally having DHB spend $6 million to support his luxurious lifestyle and pocketing $185 million more on a stock-manipulation scheme.

Earlier in the day, one of Hatfield's attorneys, Maurice Sercarz, had summed up Hatfield's case, saying that his client was not involved in fraud, but only in zealously assuring that U.S. troops were quickly supplied with protective body-armor. Hatfield never had the necessary legal intent to commit fraud, Sercarz said.

"It was never about the money . . . It was always about the vests," he said of Hatfield's motivation.

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