BY John Marzulli • New York DAILY NEWS
A reputed marijuana kingpin's hope of getting out on bail went up in smoke on Thursday.
Jonathan Braun, 27, looks more like a skinny slacker from Staten Island than the leader of an international drug-trafficking ring.
But that didn't sway a federal judge.
"The government has posited substantial evidence of Mr. Braun's involvement in this conspiracy, which involves huge amounts of marijuana and huge amounts of money," said Brooklyn Magistrate Viktor Pohorelsky.
Braun is accused of smuggling more than 100,000 kilos of marijuana into the U.S. through Indian reservations along the Canadian border.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested him last week in Staten Island, where he lives with his Orthodox Jewish parents, a sister and a 90-year-old grandparent.
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.
Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel said nine family members were willing to sign a $1 million bond and attacked the prosecutors' contention that Braun is a flight risk.
"He's lived with his parents his entire life," Shargel said. "His roots are deeply placed in Staten Island."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Tiscione said Braun used a cellphone store he owned to launder millions of dollars in drug money and encrypted BlackBerry phones to evade surveillance.
The judge expressed concern that Braun might have access to a stash of illicit cash if he was freed.
Braun nodded to his father, a shoe salesman, and his mother, a city teacher, as he was escorted out. "Don't worry," the father mouthed.
Marijuana kingpin Jonathan Braun ran major drug ring from Staten Island home: feds[Hat Tip: CS.]
BY Edgar Sandoval and John Marzulli • New York DAILY NEWS
From a quiet block on Staten Island, a marijuana kingpin ran an international pot-smuggling operation - bringing 100,000 kilos across the Canadian border, the feds say.
The feds raided the modest Buchanan Ave. house where Jonathan Braun, 27, lived with his Orthodox Jewish parents while consorting with biker gangs, court papers say.
"He's the real deal," a law enforcement source said of Braun, who has a bail hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court today. "He's huge."
Braun employed a small army of boatmen and drivers who used vehicles with hidden compartments to transport pot from Canada through the Akwesasne Native American reservations to New York, court papers say.
Proceeds from street-level dealers went back across the border - to Braun's Canadian bosses, sources said.
Braun, who has ties to the Hells Angels and Canada's West End gangs, was in charge of the organization's U.S. operation, sources said.
His weed is peddled throughout New York City and Long Island and he virtually locked up the marijuana market on Staten Island, sources said.
Before Braun was charged last week, nearly 60 members of the organization were arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
Inside his home, agents seized $30,000 in cash, at least 16 cell phones and BlackBerry devices, packaging materials and drug records that reference "hundreds of separate marijuana shipments totaling tens of thousands of kilograms," Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Tiscione said in court papers.
Braun allegedly fled to Israel last year after DEA agents raided one of his stash houses in Staten Island.
"While abroad, Braun continued to direct the operations of his drug organization by using encrypted BlackBerry devices to communicate with his underlings and drug customers," Tiscione said.
After $100,000 in marijuana was stolen from a stash house in California, Braun allegedly flew out to the West Coast and whipped a worker with a belt for failing to watch the location.
The feds also intercepted text messages indicating Braun had made enemies.
"You deserve to get locked in a cage like the animal you are...[your] family will be proud of [their] son...your money is not going to be worth d---," a criminal associate warned Braun.
Neighbors on tree-lined Buchanan Ave. were floored by the allegations.
"His father is a very hard worker," said Thomas Eapen, 65. "He [Jonathan] seemed like a nice young man. I would have never imagined."
Braun's high-powered defense lawyer Gerald Shargel declined comment last night.