Nima Momeni—the man accused of killing Cash App founder Bob Lee in Downtown San Francisco—has new lawyers with celebrity connections after his first attorney Paula Canny withdrew from the case Tuesday.
Canny said a conflict of interest was to blame for her withdrawal from the high-profile murder case that made international headlines and became a hot-button issue in the debate over San Francisco’s perceived crime issues.
Momeni’s new lawyers are Florida-based Bradford Cohen and Saam Zangeneh, who have made names for themselves defending rappers in criminal cases.
Cohen appeared on NBC’s The Apprentice during its second season in 2004 and was “fired” by Donald Trump, who hosted the show long before he went on to become president. Cohen is said to have maintained a relationship with Trump throughout his presidency, winning rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black a reprieve from firearms charges in which they both faced potential prison time, reports the Miami Herald.
Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, pleaded guilty in December 2020 to being a convicted felon in possession of a gold-plated handgun during a trip to Miami. The “Lollipop” rapper potentially faced several years in prison for the offense. Black was serving less than four years for lying about his criminal history on a background check to buy firearms at a local gun shop.
Cohen was able to lobby then-President Trump to help both South Floridians out with their legal woes. Wayne was granted clemency by Trump—a presidential pardon in layman’s terms—while Black saw his sentence cut short by the reality-TV-star-turned-U.S.-president.
Cohen was not present at Momeni’s Tuesday hearing in San Francisco Superior Court, and neither was Zangeneh, who said in a phone interview with The Standard that he couldn't speak about the case because he is yet to review the documents and grasp the facts. Zangeneh referred to Cohen as “the celebrity guy” Tuesday. Momeni's next court appearance is set for June 13. Cohen did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.
Zangeneh is not licensed to practice law in California. Attorneys who are not licensed in the State of California but are licensed in another state can request to represent a defendant in a single case such as Momeni's.
Zangeneh's Instagram profile describes him as a criminal defense attorney with offices in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico. "Protecting clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 100% Persian."
Momeni is an immigrant from Iran.
Prosecutors said Lee and Momeni, an IT consultant, argued over Momeni's sister, Khazar, hours before the pair drove to a location near Main and Harrison streets, where prosecutors allege Lee was stabbed with a kitchen knife.
Canny is a well-known Bay Area defense attorney who represented Barry Bonds’ training partner, Greg Anderson, when he refused to testify against the baseball player in a case related to performance-enhancing drugs. Canny also represented the wife of former San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi in his domestic violence case.