To Hear the Sordid Truth, Try the Comedy Channel

It has gradually dawned on me that to find out what’s really happening in America, television viewers should switch to the Comedy Channel. I suppose it’s too dangerous to tell the truth unless you pretend to be kidding. Why else did I know nothing of the David H. Brooks trial until yesterday when I heard the incredible horror story on a rerun of the Colbert Report?

Apparently the trial has been reported from time to time in the New York Times, and I found various references to it on the web, but I heard nothing on the “news” channels and I saw nothing in our local newspaper.

The six-month trial is so bizarre as to merit front page treatment on its own. But the implications to be drawn from the evidence are even more sensational. In my opinion, the trial is one more indictment of the defense industry and those who profit obscenely from it.

After listening incredulously as Stephen Colbert playfully described Brooks as his “Alpha Dog of the Week” and recounted the defense contractor’s disgusting excesses, I searched the web to see if there was any truth to the story.

The reports I found confirmed every detail of Colbert’s “hilarious” tale.

Defense contractor David H. Brooks, the founder and former chief executive of DHB Industries, Inc., and his chief operating officer, Sandra Hatfield (pictured together above), are being tried in Long Island for falsely inflating the value of the inventory of the company’s top product, a bullet-proof vest worn by U.S. troops, in a scheme that netted Brooks $185 million and Hatfield $5 million.

But that’s not the interesting part. Brooks  is also accused of looting the company treasury, spending millions on his horse racing business, European vacations, private jet travel, and lavish gifts and parties for his family.

This from an AP report of the trial:

Prosecutors say he splurged on six-figure parties and other extravagances, including a diamond-encrusted belt buckle and a Bentley. He also allegedly spent more than $15 million of company funds on his horse-racing hobby and permitted his daughter to use the company jet for personal travel, including a trip from Atlanta to Wisconsin for a Halloween party.

As Colbert pointed out, the jewel-encrusted gold buckle, depicting the American flag, cost $100,000. The evidence showed Brooks also spent $300,000 on a pen collection and $10 million on his daughter’s bat mitzvah, hiring 50 Cent, Tom Petty and Aerosmith to perform. The leather-bound invitations alone cost $40,000.

This 55-year-old piece of work didn’t stop there. Witnesses said he used company funds to purchase pornographic videos for his son and prostitutes for his employees and board members.

Other “company expenses” included $90,000 for his son’s bar mitzvah; $400,000 worth of flights to the Caribbean, Italy and France and $101,000 for an armored car (for his family); and $7,900 for his wife’s facelift.

The New York Times reported that Brooks’ lawyers saw nothing amiss in hiring prostitutes with company funds. They said such services were intended to “motivate his employees and make them more productive.”

But apparently this motivational technique did not work. The company has since declared bankruptcy.

The trial is not over. The latest reports I found indicated the jury is considering the evidence. But I don’t think anyone is denying that Brooks spent company money on his private excesses. The defense is that under his compensation agreement with the board of directors, he was entitled to do so.

Whether Brooks is found guilty or not, his trial offers an insight into the way those billions of dollars in war funds are being spent.

But you probably knew that already, what with all those horror stories about Halliburton and Blackwater.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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