What Prosecutors Call Theft, Former CEO David Brooks Calls ‘Motivation’

David H. Brooks allegedly committed the crimes typical of greedy CEOs these days — fraud, insider trading, using corporate money to support a lavish lifestyle — but not in the typical way, as Kansas City–bound Times heir A.G. Sulzberger chronicles on the front page of the family paper today. Brooks was the CEO of DHB industries, a company that made body armor for the military. When he stole from his company, prosecutors allege, he didn’t just blow it on mundane things like exotic cars. Well, okay, he did do some of that. But he also spent it on things that his family and employees truly desired.

Among his purchases:

[U]niversity textbooks for his daughter, pornographic videos for his son, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees, and, for him, a $100,000 American-flag belt buckle encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

But Brooks has a perfectly good explanation, at least for the prostitutes.

His lawyers also defended the hiring of prostitutes for employees and board members, arguing in court papers that it represented a legitimate business expense “if Mr. Brooks thought such services could motivate his employees and make them more productive.”

Ah, motivation. That was probably the idea behind all these gifts. Motivation for his daughter to do well in school. Motivation for his son to masturbate. Motivation for his wife to be more attractive. Motivation for his mother to die. And for himself, motivation to always strive for his understanding of the American dream, as embodied by his gaudy, jewel-encrusted American-flag belt buckle: that any man, if he wants it badly enough and is willing to break enough laws and ruin enough lives, can become successful enough to buy prostitutes for the people he loves.

At Military Contractor’s Trial, a $100,000 Buckle [NYT]

What Prosecutors Call Theft, Former CEO David Brooks Calls ‘Motivation’