Billionaire Robert Brockman, who was indicted in 2020 in what has been called the biggest tax evasion case ever against an individual in the United States, has died. He was 81 years old.
Brockman’s death was confirmed Saturday by his lead attorney, Kathy Keneally. Additional details and the cause of death were not immediately available.
His lawyers had argued in court that he suffered from dementia and was unfit to stand trial. But a judge in May ruled him competent and set a trial date for February 2023.
Brockman, a Florida native and Houston resident whose fortune was estimated by Forbes at $4.7 billion, was the former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds, an Ohio-based software company that provides business solutions .
In October 2020, the government charged him in an indictment with 39 counts of tax evasion on $2 billion in earnings, wire fraud, money laundering and other offences. He had pleaded not guilty.
The alleged scheme to hide billions in IRS revenue has gone on for decades, the Justice Department said in its indictment announcement.
David L. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said at the time that the “alleged $2 billion tax evasion is the largest tax burden ever imposed on an individual” in the United States .
Keneally, his lead attorney and longtime tax expert, served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s tax division from 2012 to 2014.
According to court records, Robert Smith, Brockman’s former associate and the wealthiest black citizen in the United States, was to be a key witness against him. Smith avoided charges by admitting to evading taxes, paying $139 million in taxes and penalties and agreeing to cooperate, records show.
At issue in the criminal case against Brockman was the allegation that he avoided taxes through an offshore charitable trust that prosecutors said was secretly controlled by him – and which he said was independent.
Prosecutors said he used ill-gotten gains to buy a Colorado fishing lodge, a private jet and a 200ft yacht, among other things. The government filed documents in 2021 to seize the 100-acre fishing retreat in the Rockies, the Aspen Times reported then.
It was not immediately clear how Brockman’s death would affect the government’s ability to collect the taxes he says are owed.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dorothy; son Robert Brockman II; a brother and two grandchildren, according to Bloomberg.