New York Court puts a stop to loan shark freed by Trump

September 8, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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A notorious loan shark, who reportedly bragged about bribing former President Donald Trump for his freedom following a 2019 conviction, is no longer allowed to make predatory loans following a decision from a local judge.

Jonathan Braun, once a feared figure in the lending world and a beneficiary of a presidential commutation from Donald Trump, who has been charged with four separate crimes since leaving the Oval Office, has been handed a substantial blow by a New York state Supreme Court judge.

In a pivotal decision, Justice Andrew Borrok issued a temporary injunction, forbidding Braun from the business of lending, signaling a victory for scores of small businesses and individuals who have alleged harassment and extortion at the hands of Braun.

In the official order dated Sept. 1, Justice Borrok emphatically stressed that neither Braun nor his associates should partake in any lending activities or attempt to collect on previous loans or advances.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The legal pursuit of Braun has been spearheaded by New York Attorney General Letitia James since 2020. The accusations against Braun paint a picture of rampant illegality, including issuing thousands of prohibited loans to vulnerable small businesses and imposing astronomical interest rates – with some claims exceeding 1,000% annually.

Additionally, many of the affected borrowers have reported intense and sometimes violent threats from Braun, adding a layer of personal trauma to their financial turmoil.

Highlighting the severity of the case and the gravity of the evidence presented, Judge Borrok noted, “the record firmly establishes irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction.” With this statement, Borrok underscored that Attorney General James’s lawsuit against Braun stands a strong chance of succeeding.

Reports, including those from Bloomberg Businessweek, have presented a grim picture of Braun’s activities since his early release from prison in 2021. Despite his brushes with the law, Braun allegedly resumed his predatory lending with a vengeance, relying on fraudulent and unlawful practices that had previously landed him in hot water.

Before his 2020 prison stint, Braun was a renowned figure in the merchant cash-advance world, a segment known for its scant regulations. Braun and his operatives reportedly amassed an alarming $77 million from distressed small business owners nationwide. Tales of Braun’s extreme bullying tactics are chilling: threats of violence, intimidation, and even endangering borrowers’ families.

A 10-year prison sentence in 2019, stemming from an unrelated marijuana trafficking charge, seemed to signal the end of Braun’s reign of terror. Yet, a commutation from then-President Trump in January 2021 set him free. Reports suggest that Braun may have paid millions to Trump-affiliated intermediaries to buy his freedom – a claim that has raised many eyebrows and questions about the nature of his release.

With his freedom, Braun reportedly resumed his predatory lending, with new borrower complaints surfacing in quick succession. According to Bloomberg, businesses linked to Braun loaned an astounding $17 million post his prison release.

This is not the only instance where Trump was allegedly involved in a pay-for-clemency scheme. As reported earlier in the year, a woman who worked for Rudy Giuliani, Noelle Dunphy, claimed that the former president’s personal attorney was selling presidential pardons for $2 million, which Giuliani and Trump were supposedly going to split.

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