Lawyers for Bob Brockman say the ailing former CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds Co. is unable to assist in his defense against federal tax evasion charges.
But prosecutors are skeptical about those claims, writing in court filings that despite a diagnosis indicative of Parkinson's disease or Lewy body dementia, Brockman continued at the helm of the privately held dealership management system giant until after he was criminally charged nearly a year ago.
The case against Brockman, 80, is on the cusp of determining whether he is competent to stand trial. A federal judge on Friday, Sept. 10, delayed a competency hearing that had been scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 13, instead scheduling a status conference for Monday to discuss details of the hearing.
"The judge's overriding burden is to make sure that the system gets a fair trial, which means we don't prosecute the sick. But if he can assist in his own defense and he can participate in the trial and he knows right from wrong, then the United States public is entitled to a fair trial," said Frank Agostino, president of Agostino & Associates, a law firm in Hackensack, N.J., that handles tax cases.
"You can't evade millions or billions of dollars without criminal consequence," said Agostino, a former lawyer for the IRS and former special assistant U.S. attorney in Newark, N.J., with a focus on criminal tax offenses. "So the judge has to decide: What's right for the man and what's right for society? That's the toughest thing that a judge has to do."
The court's ruling on competency will determine whether Brockman goes to trial on 39 federal counts, including tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering and evidence tampering. He was indicted in October 2020 in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme lasting two decades to evade taxes on $2 billion in income. Prosecutors also allege Brockman defrauded investors in Reynolds and Reynolds' debt. He has pleaded not guilty.
Brockman's lawyers did not respond to messages seeking comment for this report. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.
Automotive News spoke with four lawyers who have worked as prosecutors and/or defense attorneys, including on federal criminal and tax cases, about the issues weighed in competency proceedings. Here's where the case stood late last week.