Cohen Downplays Ties To Close Friend Now Cooperating With Govt

on April 26, 2018 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

Michael Cohen on Wednesday tried to distance himself from Gene Freidman, his former associate in the taxi business who is now cooperating with government prosecutors.

In a tweet, Cohen said that he and Freidman, known as the “Taxi King” of New York, “are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.”

Freidman was described as Cohen’s “significant business partner” in a New York Times article Tuesday that broke the news that Freidman was cooperating with state and federal investigators in order to avoid the prospect of decades in jail for various tax fraud charges.

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.

Freidman told TPM last year that they regularly dined together. In comments to the Times Tuesday, he called Cohen a “dear dear personal friend and a passive client! That’s it!” The Real Deal reported last year that Cohen helped name Freidman’s oldest son.

Freidman also denied that his own legal situation had anything to do with the New York state criminal investigation into Cohen’s business dealings, saying he hates “that I have been grouped in this runaway train that I am not a part of!”

Freidman’s generous plea deal could add pressure on Cohen to cooperate with authorities.

But Cohen insisted the press was mischaracterizing their relationship, describing himself as “one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate” their medallions, and concluding his tweet with the hashtag #MediaWrongAgain.

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