A longtime business partner of Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to tax fraud late Tuesday and reportedly will cooperate with the government, as prosecutors turn up the heat on President Trump’s personal attorney.
Evgeny Freidman agreed to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Cohen, The New York Times reported. As part of the plea deal, Mr. Freidman got five years probation for a single count of evading a $50,000 federal tax bill. He had faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one count of grand larceny that each carried a possible sentence of 25 years in prison.
Mr. Friedman, who was nicknamed the “Taxi King,” had partnered with Mr. Cohen in the taxi business for years, according to The New York Times. Investigators had targeted Mr. Cohen’s taxi business, seizing multiple taxi medallions when the FBI raided his home, office and hotel room last month.
Mr. Cohen is said to be under investigation for bank fraud and campaign finance law violations. The FBI also seized financial records and communications related to hush money Mr. Cohen allegedly paid adult film star Stormy Daniels who has alleged she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
In recent weeks, Mr. Cohen attracted media attention for offering clients access to the Trump administration in exchange for money. Drug company Novartis and AT&T both admitted they paid Mr. Cohen for advice on how to lobby the administration. Both companies have issued statements regretting the arrangement.
Mr. Freidman’s cooperation could pressure Mr. Cohen to flip on the president, something Mr. Trump has denied would happen.
The guilty plea came on the same day that Michael Avenatti, Ms. Daniels’ attorney, accused Mr. Cohen of leaking records seized in the FBI raid.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Mr. Aventaii said Mr. Cohen is leaking recordings related to Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Mr. Avenatti requested that the court ask whether Mr. Cohen or his legal team leaked the recordings.
“We think that these select leaks are meant to paint a false narrative relating to Mr. Cohen and his business dealings at the same time he is not disclosing numerous other recordings of him speaking with individuals such as Mr. Trump,” the letter states.
The recordings were seized during the FBI raid on Cohen.
Ms. Daniels is suing Mr. Cohen for defamation after he suggested that she is lying about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump before he became president.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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