Drug Smuggler Jon Braun Is Behind All Year’s $9M Judgment: Complaint
Jonathan Braun, a drug smuggler recently pardoned by Donald Trump, is behind the $9.2 million judgment filed against developer Yoel Goldman in a Brooklyn court this week, according to a complaint filed by Goldman.
The accusation comes amidst a flurry of lawsuits between Goldman’s firm All Year Management, and a network of cash-advance companies, which appears to have fronted Goldman at least $11.5 million over six months in 2020, as it faced a growing number of defaults and financial headwinds.
Braun, who, until recently, was an inmate at Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York serving a 10-year sentence for drug smuggling, has a history of predatory lending. He currently faces lawsuits from both the Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general for a ring of cash-advance companies that deceived and threatened clients, according to the FTC, and issued “fraudulent, sky-high interest loans,” per the NY AG.
Last Friday, an entity known as Mapcap Funding LLC filed a confession of judgment against Goldman for $5 million, which had grown to $9.2 million with interest, default fees and attorney’s fees included, according to an affidavit.
In response, on Thursday, Goldman sued Mapcap, claiming that the judgment is invalid, and that Mapcap is associated with Braun and his network of companies that are currently under investigation, which includes Richmond Capital Group, now called RCG Advances, and Ram Capital Funding.
The Mapcap judgment was filed against Goldman personally, as well as against All Year, and roughly 100 property entities that All Year owns. Goldman now claims that the confession of judgement is invalid because he could not legally sign on behalf of the property entities, which are included in All Year’s corporate portfolio in Israel that issued bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
As of this writing, two more confessions of judgement have been filed Thursday against Goldman, one for $3 million that has since grown to $5.4 million, and another for $3.5 million that has since grown to $5 million. All three were filed by the same law firm and included signed affidavits by a Braun associate by the name of Yosef Brezel.
This type of confession of judgment is one of the areas that the FTC took issue with in a suit filed in the Southern District of New York this past June. “The defendants also require businesses and their owners to sign confessions of judgment as part of their contracts, which allow the defendants to go immediately to court and obtain an uncontested judgment in case of an alleged default,” the release about the case explains.
In addition to its aggressive techniques, Braun used intimidation and threats to force clients to pay up without asking questions, the FTC case claims. “Braun has regularly called merchants’ representatives and harassed, insulted, sworn at, and threatened them,” per the complaint. “He has told them that he knows where they live and has threatened to seize their assets, destroy their businesses, and do violence to them and their families.”
Allegedly, Braun ran this predatory loan business from his parents’ home in Staten Island while awaiting sentencing for marijuana smuggling over a decade ago. Braun was indicted in 2010 and charged with operating one of the major marijuana distributors in New York City, selling $1.72 billion worth of weed from 2007 to 2010, according to The New York Times. He spent 17 months in prison, and then more than seven years on bail awaiting sentencing, during which he operated his cash-advance schemes. According to an investigation by Bloomberg, Richmond Capital was awarded 252 confessions of judgement against small-business borrowers in 33 states and in Washington, D.C., between 2015 and 2018.
Former Harvard law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who lobbied for Braun’s pardon, said he deserved it because “for a good many years, [Braun] was told that his cooperation would be recognized and he didn’t get that recognition,” according to The New York Times. Trump commuted Braun’s sentence in his final hours in office.
While Goldman’s summons does not say how Braun is involved, it named Braun explicitly as a defendant, and Brezel as a co-defendant. Brezel is also a co-defendant in several other lawsuits against Braun, according to public records, and they are also related to each other, according to two separate sources.
In one of those lawsuits, Brezel confessed to sharing office space at Richmond Capital Group’s old office address with Michelle Gregg, a co-defendant in the FTC’s case against Braun, though he claims to have never been an employee of Richmond or Ram Capital. Brezel is not named in the FTC case.
The judgment against All Year is just the latest in a series of falling dominoes that are threatening to destroy the company. On Friday, All Year filed a last-minute lawsuit to delay a UCC Foreclosure auction on its Denizen housing development in Bushwick, which is now scheduled for late February.