Tuesday, May 22, 2018
NEW YORK (AP) — A longtime business partner of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, whose business dealings are being scrutinized by federal prosecutors, pleaded guilty today in a state tax fraud case that requires him to cooperate in any ongoing investigation, according to a person briefed on the deal.
Yellow cab magnate Evgeny "Gene" Freidman, the so-called Taxi King of New York, pleaded guilty to a single count of tax fraud in an Albany courthouse, almost a year after state prosecutors and tax authorities charged him with pocketing $5 million in mandatory, per-ride transportation fees.
For years, Freidman has managed hundreds of taxi medallions, the physical plates affixed to cabs that owners are required to display, including more than two dozen owned by Cohen, Trump's longtime fixer.
The two men, both lawyers, also have been close personally for decades – Freidman told the real-estate publication the Real Deal last February that Cohen helped him name his eldest son.
Still, it wasn't immediately clear what if any information Freidman could provide to investigators probing Cohen's financial dealings. His lawyer, Patrick Egan, declined to discuss the deal and said he couldn't comment on what the plea "indicates regarding any case other than my client's."
Cohen's attorney didn't return phone and email messages seeking comment.
In announcing the deal, the attorney general's office made no mention of potential cooperation, saying Freidman would be required to pay back the money he was charged with pocketing, including $500,000 within 30 days of his plea.
The person familiar with the case wasn't authorized to publicly discuss it and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
FBI agents last month raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room as part of a monthslong probe into the Trump fixer's finances, including his dealings in the taxi industry, according to court papers and people familiar with the investigation.