Benjamin Brafman

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Benjamin Brafman
Benjamin Brafman 2017.png
Brafman in 2017
Born (1948-07-21) July 21, 1948 (age 74)[1]
Alma materBrooklyn College (BA)
Ohio Northern University (JD)
New York University (LLM)
Spouse(s)Lynda Brafman

Benjamin Brafman (born July 21, 1948)[1] is a prominent American criminal defense attorney and founder of the Manhattan-based firm Brafman & Associates, P.C.[2] 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, a son of Holocaust survivors. Brafman's family fled from Europe to Cuba on their way to the United States just before World War II.[3] He went to a Yeshiva High School and took night classes at Brooklyn College, majoring in anthropology and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.[2][3]

Brafman received his Juris Doctor with distinction from Ohio Northern University College of Law.[4][2] He also earned an LL.M. from New York University School of Law.[5] In May 2014, Brafman was awarded an honorary degree by Ohio Northern University College of Law.[6]


After graduating from law school, admitted to the New York State Bar in 1975, 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.[2]

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,[4] Plaxico Burress, Michael Jackson,[8] Carl Kruger,[9] Charles Kushner,[10] Marvell Scott,[11] Sean Combs ("Puff Daddy"),[12] Mafia boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Mafia underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, online gambling figure Jay Cohen,[13] Dominique Strauss-Kahn,[3] Rabbi Menachem Youlus,[14] political pundit Dinesh D'Souza,[15] high-profile attorney Sanford Rubenstein,[16] Martin Shkreli,[17][18] and Harvey Weinstein.[19]

Notable cases[edit]

Brafman slowly established his reputation as a celebrity lawyer through a series of high-profile cases.

Sean "P. Diddy" Combs trial[edit]

Brafman’s profile rose following the acquittal of client Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, on 1999 illegal weapons and bribery charges. The criminal charges stemmed from a nightclub brawl, while accompanied by then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, and Combs's usual entourage, and was witnessed by over 100 other people. Numerous prosecution witnesses testified to Combs's culpability; a not guilty verdict was decreed on all charges.[1][20][21][22]

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.[23][24] Burress pleaded guilty to a weapons charge and was sentenced to two years in prison.[25]

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,[26] 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.[27]

Brafman discussed his defense of Strauss-Kahn on Charlie Rose in February, 2012.[28]

Martin Wolmark[edit]

In 2014 and 2015, Brafman represented Martin Wolmark of the Epstein-Wolmark gang, an outfit that had plotted the kidnap and torture of Jewish husbands to coerce them into granting their wives gets (religious divorces).[29][30] Wolmark pled guilty to the charges, and was sentenced to three years in prison.[31][32]

Martin Shkreli[edit]

In early 2016, Martin Shkreli retained Brafman to defend him.[33][34] In a 2017 jury trial, Shkreli was found guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.[35] He was sentenced to seven years in prison.[36]

Harvey Weinstein[edit]

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein hired Brafman in 2017, after numerous sexual abuse allegations against him from prominent members of Hollywood resulted in charges and a criminal trial.[37]

Brafman represented Weinstein at his arraignment on May 25, 2018 in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case, and first-degree criminal sex act in another case. Brafman said in an interview: "Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood. Bad behavior is not on trial in this case."[38]

In January 2019, Brafman and Weinstein issued a joint statement officially parting ways.[39] Weinstein would subsequently get convicted on several charges, and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Personal life[edit]

Brafman is a practicing Orthodox Jew.[40]

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."[4] Brafman has lived in the Five Towns area of Long Island since 1981.[2] The couple have two children, Jennifer and David, and a number of grandchildren.[2]

Brafman's older brother, Aaron, was an Orthodox rabbi in Far Rockaway, Queens.[4][41]

Brafman is a self-described "short Jewish guy," standing five feet, six inches tall.[4]


  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 Amanda Mayo, Local High-Profile Defense Attorney Ben Brafman: "If you do Great Work, People will Start to Take Notice.", South Shore Standard (June 8, 2012).
  3. ^ a b c Levinson, Chaim (May 22, 2011). "Strauss-Kahn's lawyer to Haaretz: Former IMF chief will be acquitted". Haaretz.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gordon, Meryl (January 12, 1998). "Little Big Man". New York Magazine.
  5. ^ "Benjamin Brafman (LL.M. '79) discusses Dominique Strauss-Kahn and media frenzies at Annual Alumni Luncheon - NYU School of Law".
  6. ^ "Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients". Ohio Northern University. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. ^ Eric Pace, Two More Trials Open in Slaying In Bensonhurst (November 20, 1990). The 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, The New York Times (October 11, 2012).
  15. ^ Benjamin Weiser, D'Souza Case Is Political, Lawyer Says, The New York Times (April 22, 2014).
  16. ^ Marc Santora & James C. McKinley, Sanford Rubenstein Will Not Face Rape Charges, The New York Times (January 5, 2015).
  17. ^ Matthew Goldstein & Alexandra Stevenson, Martin Shkreli Appears to Adopt a New Legal Strategy: Silence, The 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. ^ "Harvey Weinstein to surrender to police - US media". BBC News. 24 May 2018.
  20. ^ Finkelstein, Katherine E. (March 13, 2001). "Defense Calls Combs Trial 'Stupid' Case". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
  21. ^ Horowitz, Craig, "The Defense Rests -- Permanently", New York magazine, n.d. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  22. ^ Italiano, Laura, "Legal: Puffy's Pugilist", New York magazine, n.d. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  23. ^ Macur, Juliet (November 30, 2008). "Burress Will Surrender to Authorities on Monday". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
  24. ^ Honan, Edith (August 3, 2009). "Burress indicted on weapons charges". Reuters.
  25. ^ Eligon, John (August 20, 2009). "Burress Will Receive 2-Year Prison Sentence". The New York Times.
  26. ^ May 25,2011 letter from C. Vance to DS-K lawyers, Courthouse News. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Interview with Benjamin Brafman Archived April 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, PBS, February 8, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  29. ^ Bever, Lindsey (May 23, 2014) "Rabbis Charged with Kidnapping Orthodox Jewish Men and Forcing Them to Grant Divorces", Washington Post
  30. ^ {May 22, 2014) "Four Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, One Of Their Sons Indicted In Divorce-Compelling Kidnap Conspiracy", United States Department of Justice
  31. ^ (January 14, 2015) "Orthodox Rabbi Martin Wolmark Pleads Guilty in Get Divorce Extortion Scheme", Forward
  32. ^ (December 14, 2015) "Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Sentenced To More Than Three Years In Prison For Role In Conspiracy To Violently Extort Divorce Consent From Reluctant Husband",United States Department of Justice
  33. ^ Goldstein, Matthew; Stevenson, Alexandra (February 3, 2016). "Martin Shkreli Appears to Adopt a New Legal Strategy: Silence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ Horowitz, Aaron Smith and Julia. "Martin Shkreli convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  36. ^ Hays, Tom. "'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli cries in court, is sentenced to 7 years for securities fraud". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  37. ^ McKinley Jr., James C. (November 9, 2017) "For Harvey Weinstein, a New York Lawyer With a List of Celebrity Clients", The New York Times
  38. ^ Mueller, Benjamin and Alan Feuer "Arrested on Rape Charges, Weinstein Posts $1 Million Bail" The New York Times May 25, 2018
  39. ^ Maddaus, Gene (January 17, 2019) "Ben Brafman Drops Out of Harvey Weinstein Rape Case", Variety. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  40. ^ Brafman, Benjamin (November 9, 2007). "A Kristallnacht lesson for our generation". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09.
  41. ^ "Rav Aaron Mordechai Brafman zt"l -".