Before he played trombone at Juilliard, defended mobsters and became Donald Trump Jr.’s newly hired criminal defense attorney, Alan Futerfas was a kid from Westchester.
He rode his bike to Key Biscayne and ate “the most amazing Cuban food” prepared by his best friend Fernando’s mother. He played trombone in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony and spent weekends with friends fishing for his dinner off Whale Harbor in the Florida Keys.
“It was beautiful,” the 1979 Miami Coral Park Senior High School graduate said. “I have extremely fond memories in many ways.”
On Monday, Futerfas, 55, confirmed he had been hired to represent Donald Trump Jr. after The New York Times broke the story detailing how he met with a Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties during the presidential campaign. The lawyer offered Trump Jr. damaging information about Hillary Clinton, to which he replied in an email: “If it’s what you say I love it…’’
Futerfas said the Trump family has been “very professional, very cordial, very responsible,” but admits that “it’s been a little intense these last few days.”
The family hired Futerfas based on recommendations from friends, he said, and they solicited him “like you get into any other matter.”
It’s a little more crowded now, but it’s great. Miami was a fabulous place to grow up.
Alan Futerfas, Donald Trump Jr.’s newly hired criminal defense attorney
After graduating from Coral Park, Futerfas attended the Juilliard School in Manhattan, where he studied bass trombone. After Juilliard, he broke into the criminal defense field while attending Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
“Juilliard was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. But the education is a limited education,” he said. “My dad said you could always go to law school. You don’t have to be a lawyer, but you can decide what you want to do.”
When it comes to Futerfas’ law career, his family was tight-lipped. “It’s his business up there,” said his sister, Judy Futerfas, who lives in Kendall. “We wish him good luck. He’s getting a lot of heat.”
He worked through law school, interning with New York criminal defense attorney Gerald Shargel, transcribing tapes for big Mafia cases. He graduated in 1987, became Shargel’s partner and opened his own firm in 1994.
Just after he opened the firm, the young Futerfas represented clients who had a part in the Colombo crime ring that killed 10 people, he said. The New York Times reported then that Futerfas learned that a top Colombo hit man was a former FBI informant, and that his handler was being investigated for leaking information that may have instigated the violence.
Futerfas argued that the government had tried to create a “divisive conflict which would enable the FBI to make, it hoped, dozens of arrests and convictions,” the Times reported.
His fame established him as a defense lawyer for mobsters, along with cybercrime cases, federal investigations and white-collar crime.
The lawyer gene runs in the family.
His father, Irwin Futerfas, was born in Miami shortly before the “Great Miami” hurricane of 1926, Judy recounted for HistoryMiami’s Miami Stories project last year, published by the Herald. He attended Miami-Dade schools in Coconut Grove and Shenandoah before serving in the Army and Air Force during World War II. He returned and earned his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Miami.
Irwin Futerfas was a prosecutor at the Dade state attorney’s office, worked at the federal Office of Economic Opportunity and also had positions at the Juvenile Court of Dade County. Later, he served as a general master of the 11th Judicial Circuit, where he heard family cases that were referred by judges. Irwin was the second general master in Dade County.
Alan’s mother came to Miami after college and worked at what was then the Dade County Auditorium.
When Alan Futerfas returns to Miami, he stays with his parents and goes to see them “all the time.”
“It’s a little more crowded now, but it’s great,” he said. “Miami was a fabulous place to grow up.”