Michael Cohen’s ‘Taxi king’ business partner agrees to cooperate with prosecutors – putting more pressure on Trump’s longtime lawyer
The longtime partner of Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to tax evasion – potentially putting added pressure on Cohen, who is facing criminal investigation. Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as ‘the Taxi King’ and went into the taxi business with Cohen, avoids jail through the deal.
He could have been facing 100 years in prison if convicted. Instead, he gets five years probation and pleaded guilty to evading $50,000 in taxes – but must assist prosecutors.
His deal was reported by the New York Times.
Freidman was disbarred and charged with neglecting to pay $5 million in taxes owed. He faced four counts of fraud which each could have brought 25 year jail sentences if convicted.
Officials said the taxes are from 50-cent Metropolitan Transportation Authority surcharges between 2012 and 2015.
‘The ‘Taxi King’ built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers – pocketing money that should instead have been invested in our transportation system,’ said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he was charged.
Freidman was arrested in June and charged with taking part in that alleged crime. He owned hundreds of the New York City-issued medallions – another term for permits – that allow yellow cabs to operate.
The offense he pleaded guilty to was a far smaller crime – a single count of evading only $50,000 worth of taxes. The judge overseeing the case said Freidman would face five years of probation if he fulfills the terms of his agreement. The plea to a lesser charge is a possible indication the authorities valued whatever information he may have.
The move puts additional pressure on Cohen, who some Trump advisors have predicted will himself give in to pressure and cooperate with investigators in the southern district of New York.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller referred his case there before the FBI conducted raids on Cohen’s home and office. Cohen owes New York nearly $54,000 in unpaid cab medallion taxes, amid claims the FBI seized records relating to his taxi empire during raids on his office and hotel room.
Evgeny Friedman is Michael Cohen’s partner in the taxi business. Cohen and his Ukraine-born wife, Laura, 48, own at least 32 yellow cab permits and are required to hand over 50 cents to the state for each journey, with the money funding public transport.
But this has not happened for many of the medallions – another name for permits – that Cohen owns, leading to an unpaid bill of $53,836, according to New York State’s Department of Taxation and Finance. The deal would require him to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors. Prosecutors are already combing through Cohen’s financial records, including big payments he got from major firms as he touted his access to President Trump after the elections.
Also under the microscope is his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who signed a nondisclosure agreement and claims she had an affair with Trump. The president revealed last week on his financial disclosure that he ‘reimbursed’ Cohen for expenses related to a payment of up to $250,000.
Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud. He has said he took out a home equity loan in order to make the payment to Daniels, which he executed through a Delaware LLC he set up in October of 2016, weeks before the presidential election.
- “Today, the ‘Taxi King’ – Freidman – admitted that he built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers,’ said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood.