UPDATED, March 3, 2021, 8:30 a.m.: Yoel Goldman’s embattled Brooklyn-based firm is walking back allegations that a convicted drug smuggler provided it with high-interest rate loans while in prison.
All Year Management previously alleged in a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court that Jonathan Braun, who pleaded guilty to drug smuggling and money laundering in 2011, was behind at least $11.5 million in high-interest rate loans to the developer and its affiliates as part of a “larger loan-sharking scheme.” The suit was filed in February by the firm and more than 100 of its affiliates.
Now, All Year’s attorney claims in a new filing that “upon further investigation and consideration,” the firm no longer believes that the allegations that Braun was involved “have any meaningful basis in fact or law.”
“We have denied this since the get go and I am happy that the truth comes to light,” said Steven Berkovitch, an attorney representing defendant MapCap Funding, and the remaining defendants in the suit. All Year had previously alleged Braun had ties to MapCap.
The lawsuit is still pending against the other defendants and lenders named in the suit, including MapCap Funding and Yes Capital Funding Group. The complaint alleged that the lenders charged Goldman “criminally usurious interest rates” that sometimes exceeded 200 percent.
It is unclear how Braun’s removal from the suit will impact All Year’s ongoing lawsuit. The allegation that Braun was ultimately behind the lending entities was a central to the complaint. It alleged that Braun directed the operation from federal prison in Otisville, New York.
Braun was serving a 10-year prison sentence for a billion-dollar drug ring that prosecutors say smuggled marijuana from Canada through a Native American reservation in New York. He was sentenced in 2019 and pardoned by President Donald Trump shortly before he left office.
The complaint sought to vacate a $9.2 million judgment filed by MapCap Funding, against Goldman, All Year and over 100 other entities tied to the developer.
The Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General’s office have separate investigations into Braun and companies tied to him for allegedly making predatory loans to small businesses.
All Year, meanwhile, is facing the foreclosure of its trophy asset: a massive apartment complex in Bushwick known as the Denizen. Silverstein Properties recently submitted a non-binding proposal to purchase Phase I of the project at 54 Noll Street.
In January, trading on All Year’s bonds was suspended after the company missed its bond payments and delayed its quarterly financial reporting.
All Year’s attorney Efrem Schwalb declined to comment. The firm’s spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify that All Year had previously alleged Braun had connections to MapCap Lending.