Robert Brockman, billionaire indicted in tax evasion case, dies aged 81

Billionaire Robert Brockman, who was charged in 2020 in what has been called the largest tax evasion case ever against a person in the United States, has died. He was 81.

Brockman’s death was confirmed Saturday by his lead attorney, Kathy Keneally. Further details and cause of death were not immediately available.

His lawyers had argued in court that he had dementia and was unable to stand trial. But a judge ruled in May that he had jurisdiction and set a trial date for February 2023.

Robert Brockman in 2011.
Robert Brockman in 2011.Dave Rossman / Houston Chronicle via AP

A Florida native and Houston resident whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at $4.7 billion, Brockman was the former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds, an Ohio-based software company that provides solutions to businesses.

In October 2020, the government charged him with 39 counts of tax evasion on $2 billion in profits, wire transfer fraud, money laundering and other offenses. He had pleaded innocent.

The alleged plan to hide the IRS’s billion-dollar revenue spanned decades, the Justice Department said in announcing the indictment.

David L. Anderson, US attorney for the Northern District of California, said at the time that the “$2 billion tax fraud charge is the largest tax charge ever brought against an individual” in the US.

Keneally, his lead attorney and long-time tax specialist, was the 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 business partner and the richest black citizen in the US, is said to be a key witness against him. Smith avoided charges by admitting tax evasion, paying $139 million in taxes and fines, and agreeing to cooperate, data shows.

At stake in the criminal case against Brockman was the allegation that he evaded taxes through an offshore charity fund that prosecutors said was secretly controlled by him — and which he said was independent.

Prosecutors said he used ill-gotten gains to purchase, among other things, a Colorado fishing cabin, a private jet and a 200-foot yacht. The government filed paperwork to seize the 100-acre fishing retreat in the Rockies in 2021, the Aspen Times reported at the time.

It was not immediately clear how Brockman’s death would affect the government’s ability to recover the taxes it believes are owed.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dorothy; son Robert Brockman II; a brother and two grandchildren, according to Bloomberg.

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