It all came back to the $101,000 belt buckle.
After six months of trial, a federal prosecutor Monday began his summation of the government case against body-armor magnate David Brooks by reminding jurors that Brooks had used his company's money to purchase a $101,000 jewel-encrusted belt buckle in the shape of a United States flag.
The money Brooks used was illegally looted from his former company, DHB Industries, as part of Brooks' "greed and lies" to support an extravagant lifestyle, Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Ott said in federal court in Central Islip.
The diamond, ruby and sapphire buckle made headlines when Brooks was indicted on charges of looting his company, once based in Westbury, of $6 million dollars for personal expenses and getting an additional $185 million through a scheme to inflate the stock price.
In addition to the belt buckle, Ott said that Brooks illegally spent more of the $6 million of company money on a $2,700 grave for his mother; $40,000 on leather-bound invitations to the bar mitzvah of his son Andrew; $5,300 on a face-lift for his former wife, Terry; and $100,000 on another belt buckle with a single large diamond.
Brooks had previously gained public notoriety when it was reported that he spent $8 million to $10 million on his daughter Elizabeth's bas mitzvah.
Brooks' three children were in the courtroom. But two other people who have been present for most of the trial were not - Brooks' brother Jeffrey and Brooks' longtime girlfriend, Jil Klinkert, who is also one of his paralegals. U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert last week barred them from the courtroom after federal marshals found nine apparent tranquilizer pills concealed in Brooks' pens. Klinkert and Brooks frequently brought in legal material, food, water, and pens to Brooks. They have not been charged with any crime.
Ott also said that Brooks' co-defendant, Sandra Hatfield, the company's former chief operating officer, was deeply involved in what he said was the scheme to inflate DHB's profit margin and consequently falsely inflate the value of the stock. Hatfield made $5 million in the stock scheme, Ott said.
Brooks' lead defense attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, at the beginning of his summation for his client, told jurors that the government has presented a picture of his client as "not nice, loudmouth, boorish, ornery, uncouth." But Ravenell, whose defense summation is expected to continue Tuesday, said a more accurate picture would describe Brooks as "hard as nails, obsessive, brilliant, committed, risk-taking."