Drug smuggler pardoned by Trump sued by All Year over high-interest loans
Lawsuit filed by Yoel Goldman’s companies alleges that Jonathan Braun is behind a $9.2M judgment filed this week
UPDATED, March 3, 2021, 8:31 a.m.: As Yoel Goldman desperately tries to keep his Brooklyn-based real estate firm afloat, a new court filing alleges that Jonathan Braun, who pleaded guilty to drug smuggling and money laundering in 2011 but was recently pardoned by President Donald Trump, made loans to some of Goldman’s companies while in prison.
Braun was allegedly behind at least $11.5 million in high-interest rate loans to the developer, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court by All Year Management and a web of companies tied to Goldman.
The complaint alleges that the loans are part of a “larger loan-sharking scheme,” and that Braun and his affiliates made short-term loans to Goldman and All Year with “criminally usurious interest rates” that sometimes exceeded 200 percent.
When Goldman and his firm refused to repay the loans, the defendants allegedly refinanced those into other short-term loans while illegally collecting additional lender fees and jacking up the interest rate.
The complaint seeks to vacate a $9.2 million judgment filed this week by Braun’s alleged firm, MapCap Funding, against Goldman, All Year and over 100 other firms tied to the developer. Since then, two more judgments have been filed against Braun for $3 million and $3.5 million, with additional interest accruing.
Ariel Bouskila, who is representing MapCap Funding in the judgment, said, “Mr. Braun did not have any involvement in any of the relevant transactions and our filings will speak for themselves.” He declined to comment further.
Commercial Observer first reported the news.
The lawsuit alleges 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 allege smuggled marijuana from Canada through a Native American reservation in New York. He was sentenced in 2019.
The FTC and the New York Attorney General’s office have separate investigations into Braun and companies tied to him for making predatory loans to small businesses, then allegedly threatening the owners with violence to make them pay.
A lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in June alleges that Braun warned one business owner not to “fuck with” him. He allegedly threatened to “destroy” the business owner and make his life a “living hell.” He then allegedly said, “I know where you live. I know where mother lives,” and “I will take your daughters from you,” according to the complaint.
The suit filed by Goldman’s companies claims that the judgment is invalid due to these ongoing investigations in Braun’s business.
In the complaint, the developer says Braun and his company are a “ticking time bomb to file yet another confession of judgment… that Goldman was unauthorized to sign.”
All Year is facing the loss of its trophy asset: a massive apartment complex in Bushwick known as Denizen. Last week, All Year filed a last-minute lawsuit to stop a UCC foreclosure sale for an interest in Denizen after it defaulted on its mezzanine loan.
In January, trading on All Year’s bonds was suspended after the company missed its bond payments and delayed its quarterly financial reporting.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify that All Year alleged Braun had connections to MapCap Lending.