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Guilty Plea of 'Taxi King' Could Be Bad News for Cohen

Evgeny Freidman agrees to cooperate with investigators
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2018 4:42 AM CDT
Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, steps out of a cab on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – The "Taxi King of New York" has made a plea deal that could be bad news for Michael Cohen. Evgeny Freidman, the longtime business partner of President Trump's lawyer, entered a guilty plea in a state tax fraud case Tuesday after making a deal to cooperate with investigators, an insider tells the AP. The deal could be used as leverage to persuade Cohen to cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation of alleged election meddling, as well as with the federal prosecutors in New York looking into Cohen's businesses, reports the New York Times. But while Cohen and Freidman have long been close friends, it's not clear how much information on the lawyer's financial dealings Freidman would be able to give investigators.

Friedman, who managed dozens of New York City taxi medallions—the permits needed to operate yellow cabs—on behalf of Cohen, had been facing up to 25 years on each of five felony charges related to his failure to pay $5 million in state taxi ride surcharges. Under the deal, he pleaded guilty to a single count of evading $50,000 in taxes and will receive five years of probation instead of prison time. He will also be required to pay $5 million in restitution to the state. Sources say that as part of the deal, Freidman specifically agreed to assist state and federal prosecutors, though he says the plea is about taking responsibility for his own actions and has nothing to do with his "dear personal friend" Cohen. (A former Qatari official says Cohen offered him access to Trump for $1 million.)

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