A longtime business partner of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, according to people familiar with the matter.
Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, a New York City taxi mogul, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Albany County court to one count of criminal tax fraud. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to help prosecutors with state or federal investigations, people familiar with the matter said. It is likely he will assist federal prosecutors in Manhattan with their probe into Mr. Cohen, one of those people said.
Last month, federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room as part of an investigation into possible bank fraud and campaign-finance violations related to Mr. Cohen’s efforts to raise cash and conceal negative information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Manhattan federal prosecutors have said the seized materials are largely focused on Mr. Cohen’s “personal business dealings.” The search warrant obtained by federal investigators for the raids authorized seizure of documents related to Mr. Cohen’s taxi medallions, among other things, people familiar with the investigation said.
The medallions, issued by a city agency and required for running a taxi, are bought and sold on a secondary market that has seen prices drop steeply with the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber.
Mr. Cohen, who hasn’t been charged with a crime, has denied wrongdoing.
The investigation in Manhattan followed a referral by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether associates of Mr. Trump colluded with Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Trump has denied any collusion and Russia has denied meddling.
Patrick J. Egan, a lawyer for Mr. Freidman, declined to comment. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which is leading the probe into Mr. Cohen, also declined to comment.
News of Mr. Freidman’s cooperation was first reported by the New York Times.
Since 2012, companies of Mr. Freidman, a native of Russia known as the “Taxi King,” have managed 32 taxi medallions owned by Mr. Cohen and his relatives, according to New York records and court documents. Mr. Cohen switched the management contract to Mr. Freidman after a falling out with another New York taxi baron named Simon Garber. Mr. Freidman also managed 12 taxi medallions for Mr. Cohen in Chicago, according to Chicago city records.
In 2015, Mr. Freidman was using an address of a condominium at Trump Park Avenue, the same building where Mr. Cohen lives, according to New York City Department of Finance records.
If he fulfills his plea agreement, Mr. Freidman will avoid jail time and face five years of probation, according to a press release by the New York attorney general’s office. An indictment in June 2017 accused Mr. Freidman of orchestrating a scheme to withhold millions of dollars in taxes from New York state.
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