Judge releases Brooks to home confinement

Posted: January 7, 2008 in Hot News

David Brooks, the indicted executive who in 2005 donned hot-pink suede leather pants to cavort with a rock star at his daughter’s $8-million bat mitzvah, showed up in court Thursday in a bright-orange prison jump suit and quickly discovered a wardrobe problem.

As he was about to be set free on a $400-million, personal-recognizance bond, his lawyer realized no one had brought clothes for the high-living former body armor executive to wear out of court.

Holding two bundles of files in his shackled arms, Brooks walked to the defense bench in a pair of clean white New Balance sneakers while his lawyer, Paul Shechtman, sent Brooks’ brother, Jeffrey Brooks, to get some clothes.
For Brooks, who has been locked up in the Nassau County Correctional Facility since Oct. 25, his release on Thursday was the end of a long and complicated negotiation between his lawyers and prosecutors who have expressed concerns Brooks would flee the country.

In an arrangement that assistant U.S. Attorney John G. Martin described as a “new concept,” Brooks was permitted to await his trial in an undisclosed apartment secured by armed guards, electronic monitoring and severe restrictions on his movements and communications.

Leaving the federal courthouse in Central Islip Thursday surrounded by the guards, Brooks glared at a reporter before shaking his head to a request for comment. He and the guards then hopped into a waiting silver minivan and drove off.

Martin said the request to withhold the location of Brooks’ apartment was made by his defense attorneys for security reasons, and U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert complied. She warned him any violation of the bail terms would bring swift consequences.

The detention arrangement severely restricts Brooks’ communication and visitors. He is allowed to leave the premises only for court appearances and doctor appointments.

Brooks didn’t say much during the court proceedings other than to agree to the conditions set forth in the agreement. He posted a $400-million personal recognizance bond, co-signed by two of his children, his brother, Jeffrey, and his ex-wife, Terry. The bond is secured by $48 million in assets, and Brooks also surrendered his passport.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled for later this month and Brooks’ lawyers said they believe the trial will get underway in six months. The lawyers say they believe all assets have been accounted for.

Shechtman read a statement, saying Brooks is “looking forward to spending time with his children and meeting with his lawyers to prepare his defense. … He looks forward to enjoying full liberty.”

In court appearances and filings, federal prosecutors pushed for the strictest release terms for Brooks, detailing millions of dollars in transfers to overseas accounts he has made since charges were first filed against top DHB officers last year.

Brooks, who allegedly used corporate funds to pay for many personal expenses, including his daughter’s $8-million bat mitzvah and his wife’s $7,900 face-lift, was charged in an October indictment with securities fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and insider trading. Brooks pleaded not guilty to the federal charges at his arraignment in October.

Court documents alleged that “literally dozens” of witnesses said they feared Brooks, based on a “history of intimidation and threats.” The documents alleged he had ties to organized crime and, more recently, sent $4 million to tribal holy men in Senegal, West Africa, for religious ceremonies to win his acquittal. That country does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Shechtman denied his client sent money to Senegal to hide assets.

In a filing at the end of October, prosecutors argued that Brooks posed a more serious flight risk than the Sabhnanis, the Long Island couple convicted recently of enslaving a pair of Indonesian workers in their Muttontown home. Mahender Subhnani is still living at the family home pending further court action, while his wife, Varsha, is in jail.

During their release on bail, the couple paid costs estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 a day for the conversion of their home into what was effectively a prison.

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