A federal judge has denied a motion to overturn the jury's verdict in the case of former body-armor magnate David Brooks -- convicted two years ago of stock fraud and looting his then Westbury-based company, DHB Industries -- and ruled that he was mentally competent during his trial.
Brooks, who has a history of taking tranquilizers for anxiety and panic attacks, had argued that there were days during his 2010 trial when he did not receive adequate medication and so was not able to take part in his defense. As a result, he contended, his right to a fair trial was violated.
But U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert scoffed at the claims in a decision issued June 4, saying, "The court was able to observe Brooks at over forty court appearances . . . as well as almost daily over the course of the seven-and-a-half-month trial, and at no point did the Court observe any unusual behavior by Brooks that would provide a basis for doubting his competence.
"The court regularly observed Brooks taking notes . . . and discussing his case with counsel," Seybert wrote.
There was a five-week period during which Brooks did not regularly receive some tranquilizers because of disputes between jail doctors and Brooks' personal psychiatrist, Seybert acknowledged. But she noted that even his lawyers had argued at the time that they were concerned about their client's physical health -- not his mental competence.
As a sign of their client's aberrant behavior, Brooks' attorneys noted Brooks had been searched and found to have 23 tranquilizer tablets hidden in the waistband of his pants and a 5 1/2-inch pen concealed in a body cavity. Brooks had said he could not take adequate notes because of the flexible pens issued to prisoners.
But Seybert wrote that while "the Court does not approve of this type of behavior, the Court finds nothing out of the ordinary about a criminal defendant's attempting to smuggle drugs into jail."
She set sentencing for Aug. 8 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. Brooks was convicted in September 2010 of 17 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading and obstruction of justice. He could face up to 25 years in prison on many of the counts.
One of Brooks' attorneys, Gerald Shargel of Manhattan, said Tuesday that "the competency issue will be a major part of an appeal."
"My client's mental health issues are also relevant to the sentencing," he said, suggesting any sentence be reduced because of his client's psychiatric problems.