Combs lawyer: Fenderson 'doesn't deserve a dime'

Tuesday, March 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The lawyer for Sean ``Puffy'' Combs said a key prosecution witness who filed a $3 million lawsuit against his client doesn't deserve any money.

``He doesn't deserve a dime,'' attorney Benjamin Brafman told jurors during his summation Monday, referring to Combs' weekend driver, Wardel Fenderson. ``And you can't help him get it, because to do that, you've got to convict an innocent man on false evidence.''

Fenderson's suit against Combs alleges emotional distress.

Brafman attacked Fenderson on Monday as a deadbeat dad who is framing the rap mogul because he did not offer him money to claim ownership of a gun.

Brafman's claim turns the prosecution's position on its head. The prosecution says Combs tried to bribe Fenderson to say a gun police found in Combs' car was his own.

Brafman told the jury that the gun probably was Fenderson's. He reminded the jury in a three-hour summation that the driver had told police twice that the 9 mm handgun was his before recanting.

Police found the gun in Combs' Lincoln Navigator after stopping the car in its flight from Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999. Combs had been involved in a dispute there that led to a shooting in which three people were wounded.

Combs, 31, is not charged with hurting anyone in the dispute, but he and bodyguard Anthony ``Wolf'' Jones, 34, are charged with gun possession and bribery for allegedly trying to get Fenderson to take the gun rap.

Fenderson, 42, testified that he told police the gun was his because Combs had promised him $50,000 to do so. He said he changed his mind after talking to his lawyer and thinking it over, but he didn't tell Combs.

``The conversation never happened,'' Brafman said. ``If he accepted the bribe but didn't tell Combs and Jones he had changed his mind, why didn't Combs and Jones protest when they were arraigned in court on gun charges? He's not the first jerk who walks into a police precinct and confesses to a crime and then tried to get out of it.''

The way he has gotten out of it, Brafman said, is to testify that Combs tried to bribe him.

Meanwhile, Brafman said, Fenderson told many of Combs' employees that he had lost his weekday job because of the publicity after the club shooting.

``Why do that?'' Brafman asked. ``Because you want money. You want help.''

Brafman said Fenderson claimed he was worried about feeding his family.

``They have no idea that he's ignored his family for 14 years,'' Brafman said.

Fenderson testified that until recently he had ignored court orders and failed to pay $70,000 worth of child support.