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Officials seize papers in Brooks' Queens jail cell

David Brooks, left, with his brother Jeffrey Brooks

David Brooks, left, with his brother Jeffrey Brooks leave federal court in Central Islip. (June 4, 2008) Credit: James Carbone

A federal investigation into whether David Brooks attempted to tamper with a jury deliberating his fraud case has mushroomed, with officials at the Queens jail where he is being held seizing legal documents and other material from his cell for prosecutors, according to court proceedings and several sources.

In addition, three people involved with the defense of the former body-armor magnate have been subpoenaed to appear Wednesday before a federal grand jury in Central Islip to testify and provide fingerprints and handwriting samples, the sources said.

The three are Brooks' brother, Jeffrey Brooks, and two of his paralegals, Jil Klinkert, who is also his girlfriend, and Aaron Hendel.

The investigation into possible jury tampering was touched off Monday when a federal marshal guarding the former chief executive of DHB Industries, which was based in Westbury, said he had attempted to conceal a handwritten note scrawled on a typewritten page in a stack of legal documents handed to him by Hendel.

After reading the note, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert said it might be meaningless or might be "an attempt to . . . influence jurors."

FBI agents not involved in the trial removed the material in the courtroom wastebasket used by Brooks, and marshals confiscated the legal documents.

As part of tightened security in the courtroom, Seybert Tuesday ordered that only Brooks' lawyers could give him legal documents, and that he had to remain in a holding cell outside the courtroom unless she was present conducting court business.

The court proceedings Monday and Tuesday happened outside the presence of the jury, which has been deliberating the case against Brooks and co-defendant Sandra Hatfield since the beginning of August.

And in a possible sign that the jurors may be having trouble arriving at an agreement, the forewoman sent out a note asking Seybert to literally give the jury a "pep talk."

"We need a 'pep talk' to keep everyone focused and open-minded," the note said. Seybert reread the jurors her instructions on how to go about deliberations, including respecting the opinions of other jurors.

Initially, lead defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell had said that the written note was a legal document. But Brooks is now maintaining that the note dealt with horse racing, according to sources. Ravenell declined to comment Tuesday on the proceedings.

In a related development, a federal magistrate, Michael Orenstein, ordered prosecutors and officials at the jail where Brooks is housed to allow his defense attorneys to photocopy the legal documents and other material seized from their client in the courtroom and jail. This was for them to see if they could claim any of it was privileged and not permitted for prosecutors to have.

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