One of Michael Cohen’s former partners in the taxi business is cooperating with prosecutors, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Gene Freidman, the Russian-born “Taxi King” of New York, will cooperate with state or federal investigators as a potential witness as needed in exchange for avoiding jail time for his own crimes, a person briefed on the matter told the Times.
Freidman’s plea deal puts more pressure on Cohen to cooperate with the sprawling federal investigation into Russian election meddling – a prospect that may cause anxiety in the White House.
It also represents a remarkably lenient deal for Freidman, who has told TPM he has managed taxi medallions owned by Cohen in both New York City and Chicago for some 16 years.
Freidman was facing four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny for failing to pay over $5 million in taxes. The Times reported that each of those class B felonies carried a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
Freidman instead pleaded guilty to one count of evading $50,000 taxes and faces five years of probation provided he complies with the terms of his agreement, according to the newspaper.
Cohen’s involvement in the lucrative New York City taxi business is one of the focuses of federal prosecutors. The search warrants they received to execute raids on Cohen’s premises in April specifically sought information about Cohen’s associates in his taxi business, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Freidman told TPM in an interview last year that he and Cohen were close and “talk daily sometimes.”
“I help him out as much as I can,” Freidman said at the time. “I also have a business relationship but we’re friends, you know. We have dinner with his wife.”