As a young lawyer, Nicholas Gravant made an unusual choice: He left Cravath, Swaine & Moore, one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms in the United States, and went to Gerald, a criminal lawyer in New York City. Shargel works, and his clients include gang bosses and drug dealers.
Working for Shargel makes Gravante one of the top litigation and white-collar lawyers in the city. In a roundabout way, this also got him into one of the biggest cases of this era: the investigation of former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
The investigation escalated with the grand jury this month indictment Alan Weisselberg, the long-term chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been sued for tax fraud.
Wesselberg once claimed to be Trump’s “eyes and ears”. He was accused of accepting free rent, cars and school tuition from his grandchildren from the company without paying taxes on these benefits. He has pleaded not guilty, but prosecutors hope he may be induced to oppose Trump and reach an agreement to help their investigation.
At the same time, according to people familiar with the investigation, they are now reviewing another member of the Trump Organization’s executive team for similar violations: Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calamari.
Calamari hired Gravante to represent him. He did so on the advice of Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization. When Gravant joined the law firm in 1990, he happened to belong to “Jerry” Shagel. One of the young partners.
60-year-old Gravante said: “Things are back to square one. Now we have become the focus of attention in a very compelling case. In the past, our boss Jerry has become the focus of attention every day.” “I really enjoy it, I have to say.”
Vance’s office gave Gravant the opportunity to argue why his client should not be sued—just like they did to Weisselberg. Gravant did not want to preview his defense arguments, but made it clear that he intends to argue that there is a clear difference between Trump’s two deputies.
Although Wesselberg is a trained accountant and chief financial officer, the strong Calamari is a former American football player who caused Tron after a fight with an interrogator at the 1981 U.S. Open. At the same time, he also serves as a security guard in the event. He joined Trump as a bodyguard. Over the years, when he accompanied his boss on construction sites, he learned about the ins and outs of project management and was eventually promoted in the organization.
“He is not even a college graduate-he is a security officer,” Gravant said. “He doesn’t have any financial experience!”
Calamari does have a Trump apartment and a company car in Manhattan, but they are essential to his work to provide safety and security for his family and property. Gravant believes that the cost is deducted from his salary.
He will file a lawsuit against Mark Pomerantz, another senior New York defense lawyer, who left private practice earlier this year to help Vance’s investigation. Pomerantz teaches Gravante contract law and criminal defense at Columbia Law School. “This is a small world,” Gravant said.
In addition to media attention—and reunion with old friends—Gravant regards this case as an important precedent for a possible prosecution of a former president by a political opponent.
“When you go down this road, it’s a very dangerous road for the country,” said Gravant, who also represents Hunter Biden, who worked with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Several New York Democrats are closely related.
He added: “This is why this is a very interesting case-not only because of the players, not only because of the media attention, but also because I think we have never experienced such a situation before, and it will be a look How it unfolds is interesting.”
Vance and Leetitia James, New York Attorney General, and Democrats in their position allegedly believe that the investigation is about identifying different precedents: even a former president-just above the law.
Gravante grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He is the son of a local real estate lawyer. He prepares taxes for the convicted mafia killer Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano and others.
Before the Trump case, Gravant made headlines for his role in Boies Schiller Flexner, a litigation firm founded by super lawyers. David BoyceGravante, a Boies protégé, was elected co-managing partner in late 2019 to try to stabilise a firm that was haemorrhaging talent after a series of missteps, including Boies’ representation of Harvey Weinstein, and his involvement with Theranos, the Suspected of fraud The blood test starts.
Gravante promoted the merger with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and then left there by himself after failing his efforts. “I do believe that Boies Schiller should merge with Cadwalader. I fought for this. This did not happen,” he said, adding that his new job is an “all star” with an impressive list of financial services clients Opportunities for teamwork.
Although he praised Boyce as “the greatest litigation lawyer of our generation”, if the prosecutor accused Calamari, Gravante might eventually learn more from his experience in Shagel. “Jerry taught me everything about becoming a trial lawyer,” Gravant recalled how difficult it was to gain court experience in a large company. “In the two years I worked for him, I lived in court.”
Shargel’s company is a far cry from Cravath, where Gravante worked hard in huge corporate cases such as the Texaco-Pennzoil litigation in the 1980s. “We have organized crime cases and drug cases. The clients who enter the office are all accused of crimes. Many of them have been convicted. It is a very, very different atmosphere. It’s like day and night.”
The lessons taught by Shagel to Gravant include: Reading everything. When other criminal lawyers asked their assistants to prepare testimony summaries and other trial documents, Shagel poured in basic materials himself. If the witness may say something unexpected during the cross-examination, this is the only way to prepare.
Shagel won the acquittal of New York gang boss John Gotti in 1990 (he was later convicted on different charges), and he also emphasized the importance of credibility.
“You can state 20 points in the opening statement, and you will get one of which is ultimately wrong, and you will be hit hard throughout the trial,” Gravante said. “So you know? You insist on 19 certain things. You didn’t exaggerate anything. Because once your credibility is hit, it’s a disaster.”
Other courses are more subtle-such as how to get on the podium, how to respond to judges, and always embrace the needs of customers, even those you don’t particularly like.
“Everyone is observing and forming an impression,” Gravante observes. “If you walk back with your client after lunch – if you really don’t seem to like your client, and you don’t get along with this feeling, why should the others in the jury like them?”
If you see Gravante and Calamari smiling together in the days to come, it may be a sincere relationship. Or, it may be the wisdom of Jerry Shagel.