Michael Cohen's business partner may flip under plea deal

Cesar Mills
May 25, 2018

Earlier, the BBC reported with reference to its sources that Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of $400,000 or $600,000 "to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump" in June 2017.

Cohen is under investigation by federal prosecutors, who last month conducted searches on his office and other locations.

Evgeny "Gene" Freidman, the flamboyant 46-year-old "Taxi King" of NY and a perennial tabloid muse, has been sued for ripping off drivers, spent time last year in a Chicago prison, and once faced criminal charges for slamming his now ex-wife against a wall. Freidman faced allegations that he failed to pay $5 million in taxes, including four counts of tax fraud and one of grand larceny.

A Ukrainian intelligence official told the BBC that the country's registered lobbyists could only arrange a photo-op with Trump, so they reached out to Cohen to set up a "back channel" to the president.

CNN previously reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation searches included a request for documents related to Cohen's ownership of taxi medallions and sought information about taxi owners who had financial dealings with Cohen. The two charges - announced in March 2018 - could carry prison sentences of 10 and five years, respectively.

Last year, Freidman was charged with four counts of tax fraud and one count of grand larceny for failing to collect more than $5 million in 50-cent fare surcharges meant to help fund mass transit. If Cohen wants to save his own skin, he'll need to work out a plea deal as well and hand over all of his info on Donald Trump.

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However, the meeting was in doubt even as Poroshenko was en route to the US, infuriating Ukranian officials that Cohen took the money, reportedly as high as $600,000, despite not being able to make good on his promise, the BBC reports. Freidman, who had taken out loans against the value of the medallions at their peak was forced to default on a $34 million loan from Citibank and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. "That's it", Freidman said in the statement, sent to and read on the show by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

"Gene Friedman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other", Cohen tweeted on Wednesday.

But that same Port Washington channel may have been used before in an effort by affiliates of Russian President Vladimir Putin to end sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, according to reports in The New York Times.

"Poroshenko's inner circle were shocked by how dirty this whole arrangement (with Cohen) was", a Ukranian source told the BBC.

Freidman has for years managed a number of taxi medallions for Cohen in New York City and Chicago, and the pair have been friends since the 1990s.

Other reports by GizPress

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