Benjamin Brafman

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Benjamin Brafman
Benjamin Brafman 2017
Born (1948-07-21) July 21, 1948 (age 68)[1]
Brooklyn, New York[1]
Residence Lawrence, Nassau County, New York
Alma mater Brooklyn College
Ohio Northern University College of Law
New York University School of Law
Occupation Attorney
Religion Jewish[2]

Benjamin "Ben" Brafman (born July 21, 1948)[1] is an American criminal defense attorney, the founder of the Manhattan-based firm Brafman & Associates, P.C..[3] Brafman is known for representing many high-profile defendants, including celebrities, accused Mafia members, and political figures.

Early life and education[edit]

Brafman grew up in Brooklyn and Belle Harbor, Queens, and was the son of Holocaust survivors. He went to a yeshiva high school and took night classes at Brooklyn College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in anthropology.[4][5]

Brafman received his J.D. with distinction from Ohio Northern University College of Law.[2][3] He also has an LL.M. from New York University School of Law. In May 2014 Brafman was awarded an honorary degree by Ohio Northern University College of Law.[6]


After graduating from law school, Brafman worked for a criminal defense firm for two years, then became an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. In 1980, Brafman started his own law firm in Manhattan.[3]

Brafman has represented a number of notable figures, including Jacob Arabo, James Patino (who was cleared of all charges in the death of Yusef Hawkins),[7] Peter Gatien,[2] Plaxico Burress, Michael Jackson,[8] Carl Kruger,[9] Charles Kushner,[10] Marvell Scott,[11] Sean Combs ("Puff Daddy"),[12] Mafia boss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, online gambling figure Jay Cohen,[13] Dominique Strauss-Kahn,[4] Rabbi Menachem Youlus,[14] political pundit Dinesh D'Souza,[15] high-profile attorney Sanford Rubenstein,[16] and Martin Shkreli.[17][18]

Sean "P. Diddy" Combs trial[edit]

Brafman's profile rose following his winning the acquittal of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who was acquitted from his 1999 illegal weapons and bribery charges. The criminal charges stemmed from a nightclub brawl, while accompanied by then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez and Combs' usual entourage, and witnessed by over 100 other people. Despite the numerous prosecution witnesses to Combs' culpability, and Combs' fame, Brafman produced a unanimous 'not guilty' verdict.[1][19][20][21]

Plaxico Burress shooting[edit]

On November 30, 2008, Brafman was hired to represent NFL star Plaxico Burress who on August 3, 2009 was indicted on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment.[22][23] Burress pleaded guilty to a weapons charge and was sentenced to two years in prison.[24]

Dominique Strauss-Kahn[edit]

In 2011, Brafman represented former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a sexual assault case involving a member of the housekeeping staff of an upscale New York City hotel. Brafman and Strauss-Kahn's other lawyer, William W. Taylor, III, of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP,[25] gained first a recommendation that charges be dropped from New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, and then charges dropped by New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus.[26]

Brafman discussed his defense of Strauss-Kahn on Charlie Rose in February, 2012.[27]

Martin Shkreli[edit]

In early 2016, Martin Shkreli retained criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman to defend him.[28][29]

Personal life[edit]

Brafman's family fled from Europe to Cuba on their way to the United States just before World War II.[4] Brafman is a practicing Orthodox Jew.[30]

His wife Lynda is a librarian. The Brafmans lived in a "cramped Forest Hills apartment" early in their marriage and, by 1998, lived in an "enormous Long Island brick mansion."[2] Brafman has lived in the Five Towns area of western Long Island since 1981.[3]

The couple has two grown children, Jennifer and David, and a number of grandchildren. His daughter lives in the Five Towns close to Brafman and his son lives in Israel, where Brafman travels often.[3]

Brafman's older brother Aaron is an Orthodox rabbi in Far Rockaway.[2]

Brafman is a "self-described 'short Jewish guy,'" standing no taller than five feet, six inches tall.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Benjamin Brafman". Cityfile. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Gordon, Meryl (January 12, 1998). "Little Big Man". New York Magazine. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Amanda Mayo, Local High-Profile Defense Attorney Ben Brafman: "If you do Great Work, People will Start to Take Notice."[permanent dead link], South Shore Standard (June 8, 2012).
  4. ^ a b c Levinson, Chaim (May 22, 2011). "Strauss-Kahn's lawyer to Haaretz: Former IMF chief will be acquitted". Haaretz. 
  5. ^ Amanda Mayo, Local High-Profile Defense Attorney Ben Brafman: "If you do Great Work, People will Start to Take Notice."[permanent dead link], South Shore Standard (June 8, 2012).
  6. ^ "Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients". Ohio Northern University. Retrieved 22 Oct 2014. 
  7. ^ Eric Pace, Two More Trials Open in Slaying In Bensonhurst (November 20, 1990). New York Times.
  8. ^ Hoffman, Jan (February 12, 2004). "PUBLIC LIVES; A Savvy, Scrappy New York Lawyer for Jackson". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Crooked Carl Kruger wallowed in Albany's corrupt pork-barrel slush-fund ways, editorial, New York Daily News, March 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  10. ^ Horowitz, Craig, Jim McGreevey and His Main Man, New York magazine, May 21, 2005. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  11. ^ Melissa Grace, Ex-sportscaster Marvell Scott admits 'inappropriate touching' in rape case involving 14-year-old (August 26, 2011), New York Daily News.
  12. ^ Ralph Gardner Jr., Puff Daddy's Fate Now Rests With a Spun and Rhymed Jury (March 19, 2001). New York Observer
  13. ^ SI Scorecard, Sports Illustrated (March 16, 1998),
  14. ^ Benjamin Weiser, Torah Fraud Earns Rabbi Prison Term, New York Times (October 11, 2012).
  15. ^ Benjamin Weiser, D'Souza Case Is Political, Lawyer Says, New York Times (April 22, 2014).
  16. ^ Marc Santora & James C. McKinley, Sanford Rubenstein Will Not Face Rape Charges, New York Times (January 5, 2015).
  17. ^ Matthew Goldstein & Alexandra Stevenson, Martin Shkreli Appears to Adopt a New Legal Strategy: Silence, New York Times (February 3, 2016).
  18. ^ Jason Silverstein, Martin Shkreli hires Benjamin Brafman, high-profile attorney who defended Sean Combs, Michael Jackson and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, New York Daily News (February 2, 2016).
  19. ^ Finkelstein, Katherine E. (March 13, 2001). "Defense Calls Combs Trial 'Stupid' Case". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2008. 
  20. ^ Horowitz, Craig, "The Defense Rests -- Permanently", New York magazine, n.d. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  21. ^ Italiano, Laura, "Legal: Puffy's Pugilist", New York magazine, n.d. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  22. ^ Macur, Juliet (November 30, 2008). "Burress Will Surrender to Authorities on Monday". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2008. 
  23. ^ Honan, Edith (August 3, 2009). "Burress indicted on weapons charges". Reuters. 
  24. ^ Eligon, John (August 20, 2009). "Burress Will Receive 2-Year Prison Sentence". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ May 25,2011 letter from C. Vance to DS-K lawyers, Courthouse News. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  26. ^ Bray, Chad, Michael Rothfeld and Tamer El-Ghobashy, Judge Dismisses Charges Against Strauss-Kahn, Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2011 3:13 P.M. EDT. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  27. ^ Interview with Benjamin Brafman Archived April 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., PBS, February 8, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  28. ^ Goldstein, Matthew; Stevenson, Alexandra (February 3, 2016). "Martin Shkreli Appears to Adopt a New Legal Strategy: Silence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  29. ^ Silverstein, Jason (February 2, 2016). "Martin Shkreli hires Benjamin Brafman, high‑profile attorney who defended Sean Combs, Michael Jackson and Dominique Strauss‑Kahn". Daily News. New York. LCCN sn83030450. 
  30. ^ Brafman, Benjamin (November 9, 2007). "A Kristallnacht lesson for our generation". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09.