Trump’s pardoning of a Kushner-linked drug smuggler undercut a larger DOJ investigation

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  • Donald Trump has pardoned Jonathan Brown, the last convicted drug dealer.
  • Meanwhile, the DOJ hopes to use Braun in a separate probe into the predatory lending business.
  • Braun’s exchange means the DOJ has lost the ability to get Braun to cooperate, according to the NYT.

Donald Trump’s pardon of a convicted marijuana trafficker with ties to the Kushner family has thrown a wrench into the Justice Department’s largest predatory lending industry. New York Times He reported.

In his last term in office, Trump pardoned Jonathan Brown, a Staten Island resident who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for money laundering and leading an international marijuana smuggling ring.

Brown’s pardon came as Trump’s Justice Department worked out its own deal with Brown to fast-track his sentence in conjunction with a separate DOJ investigation into the predatory lender, or Merchant cash industry.

In the merchant cash advance business, lenders offer financing to cash-strapped borrowers, such as small businesses, at higher interest rates and fees. These terms can often leave borrowers in a vicious cycle of debt.

Brown in 2010 Drug dealersA law enforcement official told The Times on condition of anonymity.

Although he remains under house arrest, Brown has been able to live largely as a free man for an as-yet-unknown reason, the Times reported. He spent the next decade running the predatory lending system as the “principal” of Richmond Capital Group, prosecutors said. Court documents Featured in Business Insider.

Prosecutors accused Brown of threatening and intimidating his clients. For example, Brown threatened a businessman to “don’t mess with him” and “I know where you live and I know where mother lives.”

Within eight years, Braun had grown to $80 million by targeting desperate small business owners and charging interest rates of more than 1,000% annually. Bloomberg He reported.

In a phone interview with the Times, Brown denied any wrongdoing as a lender.

In the year Years after his 2011 drug-trafficking conviction, Brown cooperated with investigators and was sentenced to 10 years in a New York prison. In the year He started his sentence in 2020 NY State AG.

But Brown’s hand in the lending industry made him a valuable asset to the Justice Department, the Times reported, as the US attorney’s office in Manhattan was conducting a wide-ranging investigation. Hunter loan business.

With Brown’s experience, the DOJ hopes to cut a deal with a convicted trafficker by providing information on other predatory lenders and possibly reducing his sentence by wearing a wire, the Times reported.

This agreement will be terminated later Trump pardoned Brown In January 2021.

According to the Times, the key to his pardon was Brown’s relationship with the family. Jared KushnerIvanka Trump’s husband and senior White House adviser The Trump administration.

Brown was a member of the inaugural class of the Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, New Jersey, which the Kushner family funded.

As a member of the first freshman class, Brown was classmates with Jared Kushner’s younger sister, Nicole, the Times reported.

A merchant cash advance dealer told the Times that Brown’s cousin, Isaac Wolfe, had asked Kushner’s father, Charles, for help in getting Brown’s father a pardon.

In his last term in office, Trump pardoned Brown, despite claims that he misspelled Brown’s first name. Drug traffickers to receive the death penalty A year later at the Pennsylvania rally.

“Each pardon application went through a rigorous vetting and review process overseen by the Pardon Attorney’s Office and various White House departments,” a Trump spokesperson told Insider in an email. “President Trump has implemented his recommendations based on each individual’s circumstances.”

The Braun family continues as well. Alan DershowitzIn the year A member of Trump’s legal counsel during the 2020 impeachment trial.

Dershowitz told the Times that Brown’s father regularly called him saying, “My son is still in jail, he’s very upset,” and asked what his attorney could do to help.

The attorney told the publication that he can’t remember what he did to Brown, but that his involvement was only a phone call away.

“I believe God made me the way I am because I’m a good person and I’ve been treated unfairly,” Brown told the Times, adding that his supporters have sought ways to get him out of prison.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

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