Who is Trump’s new Atlanta lawyer, Steve Sadow?

Who is Steve Sadow?.Defense attorney Steve Sadow will replace Drew Findling as former President Donald Trump's top Atlanta lawyer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.Steve Sadow has represented many clients in Georgia RICO cases.Rapper Gunna faced RICO charges. Other Sadow clients have included rapper T.I. and NFL star Ray Lewis.In a 2021 interview with the AJC, Sadow contended that RICO was “overused” by Georgia prosecutors. (And RICO is central to the case against Trump. The Georgia law is broader than the federal RICO law.)

Hours before he surrendered at the Fulton County Jail, Donald Trump announced he was hiring a new attorney to lead his Atlanta legal team. The former president is facing 13 felony charges in Fulton County, among them violating the state’s anti-racketeering law in an effort to subvert the state’s 2020 election results,

Here is what you need to know about Steve Sadow:

He was born in Ohio: Sadow grew up in Trotwood, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton and he played football as a middle linebacker. He attended Marietta College. (That’s in Marietta, Ohio, not Marietta, Georgia) and worked at a local pool hall for a dollar an hour. That helped him to become his college’s billiards champion. Sadow came to Atlanta to attend Emory Law School and stayed after graduation.

He’s never been a prosecutor: Unlike some defense attorneys who begin their careers as local or federal prosecutors, Sadow has spent his entire career doing criminal defense work. In a 2015 interview, Sadow said when he was 11 years old he had an epiphany while watching “The Defenders” on an old black-and-white television. “I turned to my father and said, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be a criminal defense lawyer,’” he said in the interview with Georgia Super Lawyers magazine.

Sadow’s wife is also a lawyer: Susan Sadow is a well-known workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta. Like her husband, she gradated from Emory Law School. Her website says that she has successfully settled thousands of workers’ compensation cases, a dozen of them for more than $1 million.

Trump Lawyers Jennifer Little (left) and  Steve Sadow walk out of the Richard B. Russell Federal Courthouse after hearing Mark Meadow’s testimony to move the Georgia Rico case to Federal Court on August 28, 2023 in Atlanta. (Michael Blackshire/Michael.blackshire@ajc.com)

Credit: Michael Blackshire

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Credit: Michael Blackshire

His clients are often high-profile: Sadow has represented musicians Usher, Rick Ross and T.I. among others. He has also played a key role in some of Atlanta’s most sensational cases. In the 2000 murder trial of NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, Sadow represented co-defendant Jeffrey Sweeting. Sweeting was acquitted in the double slaying, which happened after a night of post-Super Bowl partying in Buckhead. He was lead counsel in the federal racketeering case involving the Gold Club, the now-defunct strip club where sports stars received sexual favors. His client, club owner Steve Kaplan, entered a guilty plea and in 2002 was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison.

He’s familiar with Georgia’s RICO law: One Sadow’s recent clients was the rapper Gunna, who was facing charges in another RICO case in Fulton County. Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, entered a negotiated guilty plea with the state that allowed him to suspend additional jail time and maintain his innocence in exchange for pleading guilty to one count of violating RICO. In a 2021 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sadow said that RICO was “overused” by Georgia prosecutors.

Style Watch: When Sadow came to federal court on Monday, Aug. 28 to sit in on Mark Meadows’ removal hearing he was sporting a pair of grey ostrich cowboy boots with a suit and no tie. Cowboy boots are something of a trademark for Sadow. He said he has 22 pairs.