Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Orthodox Jewish drug kingpin under house arrest in Staten Island has been granted permission to join his fiancé in a visit to the tomb of the late Lubavitcher rebbe Menachem Schneerson so the couple can prepare for their marriage

Jonathan Braun, who impregnated his fiancé during his term of house arrest, is facing more than 20 years in prison, but convinced Federal Judge Sandra Townes that he wants to make his lady, who is five weeks pregnant, his wife. Braun, who is an Orthodox Jew, will be allowed to visit his future in-laws to make the official announcement of their nuptials, and also leave his home to shop for a wedding ring, get fitted for a tuxedo and accompany the unidentified fiancé to doctor visits, according to papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. Townes will also allow Braun to attend an engagement party and a seven-night ceremony called “‘Sheva Brachot’ in which close family members gather at a home or restaurant and recite blessings for the newly married couple,” court papers say. Thousands of visitors make the pilgrimage to the rebbe’s resting place in Queens for “blessing, encouragement, or advice,” according to the Ohel Chabad-Lubavitch Center web site. Federal prosecutors had opposed Braun’s release on $8 million bail, but apparently took no position on whether he should be allowed to leave his home to make ready for his wedding. He pleaded guilty earlier in 2013 to supervising a massive marijuana ring that conspired to distribute 10,000 kilos of weed from Canada into the United States between 2007 and 2010. He admitted using encrypted BlackBerry devices to communicate with his underlings. “At its height ... Braun’s organization raked in more than $6 million per week,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Tiscione stated in court papers. Braun also reputedly had ties to the Hells Angels and Canada’s West End gang while deploying 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.

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