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Mogul’s Dementia Claim in Tax Case Spurs U.S. to Suspect Fakery

  • Robert Brockman says IQ score of 87 leaves him unfit for trial
  • Prosecutor voices serious concerns about ‘claimed incapacity’

Texas software mogul Robert T. Brockman has an unusual defense against charges that he used an arsenal of code names, untraceable phones and an “Evidence Eliminator” to sock away $2 billion in the largest tax-fraud case in U.S. history.

Lawyers for Brockman, 79, claim that even though he ran a multibillion-dollar software company until last month, he suffers from dementia so advanced that he’s unable to stand trial. Prosecutors warn that Brockman might be engineering an infirmity defense to avoid justice -- a position that recalls the hard line the U.S. took with Vincent “the Chin” Gigante -- the mafia boss who spent decades feigning insanity to avoid prosecution.

Brockman faces a 39-count indictment that accuses him of tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes involving a vast fortune he earned investing in Vista Equity Partners and secretly stashed in offshore tax havens. Weeks after his Oct. 1 indictment, he stepped down from his longtime position as chief executive officer of Reynolds and Reynolds, a giant in the market for software used to manage auto dealerships.

His lawyers now assert that Brockman’s intellectual capacity has steadily eroded in the past two years and he scored an 87 on an IQ test -- far below the expected level of a man who holds several patents and historically paid great attention to the details of his business. They say he’s mentally unfit to aid in his defense and asked a federal judge in San Francisco to hold a competency hearing.

“Four highly qualified doctors in Houston, Texas, have examined Mr. Brockman on multiple occasions over a twenty-two month timespan and concluded that his dementia makes him incapable of assisting in his defense,” they said in court papers this month.

In addition to dementia, Brockman’s legal team says he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, depression and hallucinations. During one exam, Brockman described “a bug on a testing room floor that was not present to either the examiner” or to the defendant’s wife, one doctor wrote.

Prosecutors suspect that Brockman may have manufactured his dementia diagnosis. They say a careful look at his actions suggests he may have a “motive to malinger,” and that “his claims are deserving of healthy skepticism.” The physicians that Brockman’s legal team obtained opinions from are all affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine, to which Brockman has donated tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors note.

“The government has serious concerns about the claimed incapacity,” Michael Pitman, a prosecutor on the case, told the judge at a hearing this month. “When did the defendant first start to complain about symptoms that he suggests incapacitate him? That timeline is very strongly indicative of a defense being manufactured in response to an investigation.”