Automotive

Bob Brockman’s competency to stand trial for tax fraud now in judge’s hands

Medical experts retained by prosecutors and defense lawyers generally agreed that Brockman likely has Parkinson’s disease. But the experts diverged on whether Brockman’s cognitive abilities are mildly impaired or have progressed to dementia.

Three prosecution experts testified that Brockman is exaggerating his symptoms, and two of them have said they believe he is competent to stand trial. Experts retained by Brockman’s lawyers, however, said they believe his impairment extends to his memory, mental processing speed, problem-solving and judgment skills and that he would struggle to understand the complex nature of the case.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said the department generally does not comment on pending matters. Brockman’s lawyers did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Brockman, 80, was indicted in October 2020 on 39 counts, including tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering and evidence tampering. He has pleaded not guilty and stepped down from his role as chairman and CEO of dealership management system giant Reynolds in November 2020.

Prosecutors pointed to Brockman’s continuation at the helm of Reynolds — and his seemingly strong performance during two civil depositions in 2019 answering technical business questions and recalling past events — as incongruent with a time period in which his symptoms of cognitive impairment were reported to have appeared. They contend Brockman had both the motivation and the capacity to malinger, or feign symptoms, to avoid prosecution.

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Current Reynolds CEO Tommy Barras, who testified that Brockman chose him to be his successor, and former Reynolds CFO Craig Moss testified during the hearing that Brockman remained involved in important company decisions and they had no reason to doubt his cognitive abilities.

Dr. Christopher Whitlow of Wake Forest School of Medicine, a neuroradiologist retained by the defense, testified that images of Brockman’s brain, including MRI and PET scans, show a pattern that raises concerns about dementia. Whitlow testified that brain scans also show Brockman has lost brain volume, raising concerns about potential loss of cognitive function.

A second defense medical expert, Dr. Thomas Guilmette of Providence College in Rhode Island, testified that Brockman’s deposition performance two years ago could not be replicated today and that Brockman likely was able to draw on deep, retained knowledge of the topics at issue even if he was experiencing dementia at the time.

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