The Shmooze

Marijuana Kingpin Lived With His Orthodox Parents

By Michael Kaminer

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Looks like we’ve got true-life sequel material for “Holy Rollers,” the just-released film in which a young Orthodox Jew gets lured into drug running.

Bail was denied Thursday for Jonathan Braun, the 27-year-old Staten Island boychik accused of smuggling more than 100,000 kilos of marijuana from Canada into the U.S. — all while living with his Orthodox parents and a 90-year-old grandparent on quiet Buchanan Avenue in Staten Island, according to the New York Daily News. “Before Thursday’s bail hearing, defense lawyer Ross Kramer handed a black yarmulke for Braun to a deputy U.S. marshal, who checked it for contraband,” the News wrote.

Braun’s high-powered attorney, Gerald Shargel, told Brooklyn Magistrate Viktor Pohorelsky his client has “lived with his parents his entire life. His roots are deeply placed in Staten Island.” Maybe too deep; prosecutors also claim Braun used his cell phone store to launder millions of dollars in drug money and encrypted BlackBerry phones to evade surveillance, the News said.

During a raid on his house last week, feds uncovered $30,000 in cash, 16 cell phones and records of drug transactions, according to the article, which also states that Braun had ties with gang members.

The allegations shocked neighbors, however, who called Braun “a nice young man.”

But apparently he wasn’t so nice. He allegedly flew out to the West Coast last year after marijuana was stolen from his stash house there, and whipped a worker with a belt for failing to prevent the theft, the News reported.

If convicted, Braun faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison. At the minimum, he faces a mandatory 10-year term if found guilty of any of the narcotics charges, said prosecutors.


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