Big Bad Wolf

Anthony Jones Upholds the Legend of Puff Daddy’s Bodyguard

Who got a gun?
Who got a bomb?
Who got a knife?
Who's gonna lose their life?
Bodyguard, I wouldn't like your job. . . .
All that fretting
All that checking
All that searching,
For assassins....
—"The Bodyguard," Steel Pulse

Anthony Jones, an ex-con with a smoothly brushed Caesar haircut, is buff like a bullnecked tackle who rumbles in the Xtreme Football League. He is handsome in a rudeboy way, the kind of thug-looking fella hip hop Jezebels swoon over. On the eighth day of his illegal gun possession and bribery trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Jones, wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit, is slumped in a mahogany chair, appearing tired of the ritual. Although it is not the seating arrangement he chose, Jones, who is positioned near a railing separating the courtroom well from the crowded gallery, is just within reach of his codefendant, rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs.

Jones, who got the nickname "Wolf" for styling his hair like '60s sitcom fright kid Wolfgang Munster—widow's peak and all—listens intently to key prosecution witness Julius Jones (no relation) recall how a heckler's threat to kill Combs triggered the December 27, 1999, shooting at Club New York. In a flash, the 34-year-old professional bodyguard once again is cast in the precarious role of the man who watches "Puff Daddy's" back.

Lamb in wolf's clothing? Prosecutors portray Anthony Jones as a gun-toting felon, but colleagues of the bodyguard describe him as slow to anger and overly protective of Sean "Puffy" Combs.
photo by Ron Antanelli
Lamb in wolf's clothing? Prosecutors portray Anthony Jones as a gun-toting felon, but colleagues of the bodyguard describe him as slow to anger and overly protective of Sean "Puffy" Combs.

"Your client really don't give a shit about you. They just talk that shit. When you drop, that's it."

In one of the more dramatic cross-examinations at the trial, defense attorney Michael F. Bachner attempts to buttress the theory that Julius Jones, who allegedly was shot by rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, actually was part of a group of hecklers led by the mysterious "Scar," who taunted Combs and lobbed a wad of $20 bills in Combs's face as Combs, Barrow, actress-singer Jennifer Lopez, and Anthony Jones left the Times Square nightclub. Bachner rips into Jones's story in which he portrays himself as the man who prevented Anthony Jones from grabbing a bottle of champagne to pummel either "Scar" or another heckler who, the witness remembers, was built like Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

     Bachner: You told this jury that at the time that the champagne bottle was being picked up that you stopped the person from picking up the bottle; is that correct?
     Jones: Yes.
     Bachner: And isn't it a fact, sir, that you didn't do any such thing?
     Jones: When?
     Bachner: Isn't it a fact, sir, that the person who stopped the champagne bottle from being picked up was my client, Anthony Jones?
     Jones: No, not to my knowledge.

Bachner, a 44-year-old Hofstra University alumnus who teaches trial techniques to other lawyers, dredges up Jones's grand jury testimony.

     Question: This person, each time he would put his hand on the champagne bottle, the bodyguard would say, "Get your hands off the bottle!" He took his hands off the bottle.
     Answer: Yeah, I guess he thought he . . . we was going to smack him in the head with it.
     Question: The bodyguard?
     Answer: Yeah.

What follows is like a scene from one of Bachner's combative appearances on Rivera Live.

     Bachner: Do you remember, sir, being asked those questions and giving those answers in the grand jury?
     Jones: Can I see that?
     Bachner: [I]sn't it a fact that you swore to the grand jury that the bodyguard was the person who was telling this other guy to put the bottle down, not you?
     Jones: I grabbed the bottle, too, and the big guy grabbed it.

Bachner then tries to establish that Jones told jurors a different story than the one he told the grand jury, a tactic Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos loudly objected to over Jones's fluty denial.

     Bachner: Sir, isn't it a fact that you were with Scar and this other person that evening?
     Jones: No, sir.
     Bachner: Isn't it a fact, sir, that you were going to try and smack the bodyguard in the head with the champagne bottle?
     Jones: No, sir.

Lost amid Michael Bachner's argument that Anthony Jones tried to defuse tensions at Club New York that day, not escalate them, is the fact that Jones has put his life on the line far too many times for Sean Combs. Most of the time, Jones has been all that stood between Combs and the unnecessary roughness of the Scars and the Ray Lewis look-alikes. "A lot of cats don't like Puffy, but they are too timid to cross Wolf, who is like Puffy's extra arm," says a hip hop impresario who knows both Combs and Jones, and who asked not to be identified. Yet when cops portray Jones as a hot-tempered, gun-toting felon, the impresario describes him as "part guardian angel, part wolf," the kind of cunning creature who lives by an old Mafia maxim, "Blood washes blood."

"If there's any creature like that, Wolf definitely is the one," says an Atlanta-based bodyguard who has worked alongside Jones guarding Combs at Justin's, a restaurant the rapper owns in the upscale Atlanta suburb of Buckhead. "Once I was about to be locked up and the guardian angel part of him stepped in when no one else would." That's the Anthony Jones most people in Atlanta's tight-knit, mostly black celebrity bodyguard circles know. "Wolf looks out for a lot of people," says the president of a rival security agency who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He put my guys on to a lot of work, got us in the game. He was not intimidated by us. He would sit down at the table and we would argue back and forth with him."

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