Raids at 'Diddy's' homes in LA, Miami signal that prosecutors are confident in case, expert says

ByIrene Cruz KABC logo
Thursday, March 28, 2024
'Diddy's' lawyer says raids at homes were 'excessive' use of force
Sean "Diddy" Combs' lawyer that the searches of the rapper's Los Angeles and Miami properties by federal authorities in a sex trafficking investigation were "a gross use of military-level force" and that Combs is "innocent and will continue to fight" to clear his name.

LOS ANGELES -- The searches of two homes owned by hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs were meant to find evidence to corroborate accounts of his accusers, and a legal expert said the raids are a sign that federal prosecutors in New York, who are leading the investigation, are confident in the case they're building.

"The fact that they are taking this aggressive step tells me they have cooperative victims and they're moving quickly to make a case," said Rebekah Donaleski, a partner at the law firm Cooley LLP and a former federal prosecutor who supervised the successful prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein's paramour Ghislaine Maxwell.

Prosecutors have interviewed a number of Combs' accusers, including those who filed civil lawsuits, law enforcement sources familiar with the matter have told ABC News. The next step is trying to corroborate what those accusers said.

"Any innocuous detail that you can corroborate -- that's what you're trying to do," Donaleski said. "Perpetrators keep mementos. They keep photos, videos, things like that."

Meantime, one of Combs' employees named in one of the lawsuits, 25-year-old Brendan Paul, was arrested on drug charges Monday.

The civil lawsuit claims Paul carried drugs and guns for Combs. He's since posted bail.

Federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations seized computers and other electronic devices at Combs' homes in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and Miami, the sources have said, as investigators search for photos, videos or other evidence that accusers might have spoken of during interviews.

"A search, especially one that is this high profile, signals they have confidence they have strong evidence and the speed with which they have moved tells me the evidence is compelling," Donaleski said.

Sources have described the investigation as focused on possible sex-trafficking offenses or violations of the Travel Act, which prohibits interstate or foreign travel for the purposes of a sex act.

Sean "Diddy" Combs and singer Cassie said that they've settled a lawsuit containing allegations of beatings and abuse by the powerful music producer one day after it was filed.

On Tuesday, Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Combs, said the mogul was cooperative and spoke to authorities. The lawyer said Combs is "innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name."

Dyer alleged authorities used an "excessive show of force and hostility" during the searches.

Where is Diddy?

Meanhwile, Combs' whereabouts remained unknown to the public on Wednesday.

Dyer noted that authorities have not imposed travel restrictions on Combs and his children, adding that if he has flown somewhere outside of the U.S., he has a right to do so.

A hip-hop producer-turned-business mogul

Combs is among the most influential hip-hop producers and executives of the past three decades. Formerly known as Puff Daddy, he built one of hip-hop's biggest empires, blazing a trail with several entities attached to his famous name. He is the founder of Bad Boy Records and a three-time Grammy winner who has worked with a slew of top-tier artists including Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lil Kim, Faith Evans and 112.

Combs' network of non-music business ventures, including lucrative private-label spirits, sportswear fashion and a TV network, has been falling apart since the abuse lawsuits began surfacing.

His vodka and tequila deal with Diageo, a major producer of distilled spirits, formally disintegrated in January when the two parties settled mutual lawsuits, leaving the brands in Diageo's hands.

His fashion line, Sean John, has disappeared from Macy's, one of the line's primary partners; Sean John items remain for sale at Walmart's online store, although many items are heavily marked down or available only in off-sizes.

And last November, Combs resigned as chairman of Revolt TV, which focuses on music and social justice issues for African Americans.

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.