Jonathan Braun, the predatory lender freed from prison by former President Donald Trump, has been temporarily banned from the loan business by a New York judge.
(Bloomberg) — Jonathan Braun, the predatory lender freed from prison by former President Donald Trump, has been temporarily banned from the loan business by a New York judge.
Braun and anyone working for him may not participate in business lending or collect on loans or advances, state Supreme Court Judge Andrew Borrok said in a Sept. 1 order.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has been pursuing a lawsuit against Braun since 2020, claiming that he made thousands of illegal loans to small businesses, charged merchants interest that sometimes exceeded 1,000% annualized and defrauded and harassed borrowers.
In barring Braun from the business until that case is resolved, Borrok wrote that the attorney general’s suit is likely to prevail and that “the record firmly establishes irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction.”
Citing a Bloomberg Businessweek report and other evidence, James’s office had told the judge that Braun returned to the lending business not long after being released from prison in early 2021 and resumed the “fraudulent and illegal practices” targeted in the lawsuit.
Frank Seddio, a lawyer for Braun, didn’t return a message seeking comment.
Read more: The Loan Shark Trump Freed From Prison Is Lending Money Again
Before reporting to prison in 2020, Braun was a prolific predatory lender, notorious for charging borrowers extreme interest rates and threatening those who fell behind. He and his associates collected $77 million in payments from small-business owners across the US, according to the attorney general’s office, operating in a lightly regulated corner of the market known as merchant cash advance.
Braun’s aggressiveness made him terrifying to those in hock to him. Some said in court filings and in interviews that he would threaten to beat them or harm their families.
“You don’t know who you’re f – – king dealing with. We can get you wherever we want,” he told one borrower, who started carrying a gun, court papers say. “We know where you live,” he said to another. “We’ll go after your family.”
In 2019, Braun was sentenced to 10 years in prison in an unrelated marijuana trafficking case, and he reported to prison the following year. Trump commuted the sentence at the end of his presidency in January 2021. Associates of Braun say he’s bragged about paying millions of dollars to Trump-connected intermediaries to secure clemency, Bloomberg reported last year.
Once free, Braun returned to lending and racked up new complaints from borrowers who said they were tricked by companies associated with him. Tallying the debts in the cases showed the companies had loaned at least $17 million since Braun’s release, and that’s just the loans that ended up in court, according to the Bloomberg report.
The case is New York v. Richmond Cap. Grp. LLC, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 451368/2020
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