NEW YORK — Sean “Puffy” Combs is the innocent victim of “bad people” who sought to frame him to profit from multimillion dollar lawsuits, Combs’ lawyer Benjamin Brafman said in his closing argument Monday afternoon (March 12).
The prosecution’s gun possession and bribery case against Combs is riddled with inconsistencies and ultimately doesn’t make sense, Brafman argued.
“If it doesn’t make sense, you must find for the defense,” he said, quoting a phrase coined by his co-counsel Johnnie Cochran. Cochran, famed for his effective — and rhyming — closing argument in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, chose not to speak for Combs because he feared his fame would overshadow his arguments, Brafman told the jury.
Speaking in a near shout, Brafman paced the courtroom as he launched a withering attack on the character and credibility of the prosecution’s main witnesses, including driver Wardel Fenderson and shooting victims Natania Reuben and Julius Jones.
“What are the odds that in a nightclub packed with 800 to 1,000 people, the only people who would suggest to you that Mr. Combs had a gun are the people who are suing for hundreds of millions of dollars?” Brafman said.
Brafman suggested that Reuben and Jones were involved in some sort of conspiracy with Matthew “Scar” Allen, the man accused of starting the argument with Combs that allegedly sparked the Club New York shootings. Reuben testified that she knew Allen before the shootings, while Jones said that he had at least heard of him. Allen, Jones and Reuben — who are all from Brooklyn — each said Combs had a gun during the shootings.
“What are the odds that Natania Reuben and Julius Jones also know Scar?” Brafman asked. “It’s not possible, unless there’s more that you’re not hearing.”
Brafman contemptuously described Jones as a pot-smoking layabout who has never worked a full-time job, but who can somehow afford to attend clubs and buy expensive clothes and drugs.
“What does Julius Jones do when he wakes up in the morning? What does he do? [And] you’re supposed to rely on him to end a man’s life,” Brafman said. Jones testified that he worked occasionally in construction and for the New York City Parks Department.
Reuben, meanwhile, decided immediately after getting shot to pin the blame on Combs solely because of his “deep pockets,” the lawyer argued. He pointed to testimony from a friend of Reuben, who said Reuben told her she didn’t remember who had a gun at the club, as well as to Reuben’s claim that Combs wore a coat during the shootings, a claim contradicted by every other witness. “If Natania Reuben is a liar, Mr. Combs must be acquitted,” he said.
Brafman dismissed Fenderson — who claimed that he saw Combs with a gun and that the rap mogul tried to bribe him — as a “deadbeat dad,” whose alleged failure to pay child support over more than a decade ruins his credibility. He also pointed to what he described as numerous fabrications and contradictions in his testimony.
Brafman was even more scornful of what he called “the most preposterous part of this case” — the gun Combs is accused of throwing out of the window of the Lincoln Navigator he used to flee the club.
George Pappas, a driver for what he called an escort agency and the defense characterized as a prostitution service, claimed to have found the gun. He turned it over to Anthony Nastasi, a paid FBI informant who owned the service.
“Anthony Nastasi has been a pimp his entire life [and] George Pappas is like an extra from The Sopranos,” Brafman said. “For safekeeping, [Pappas] turned [the gun] in to Anthony Nastasi — I guess because Charles Manson’s in jail, he gave it to Nastasi.”
Since Pappas doesn’t even claim to have seen the gun thrown from the Navigator — only to have heard it hit his car — there’s no evidence linking it to Combs, Brafman argued.
“If ever there was a case where the reasonable doubt jumps off the page at you … it’s this case,” the lawyer said.