Partner of Trump's lawyer pleads guilty to felony tax fraud


A significant business partner of US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Mr Michael Cohen, has agreed to cooperate with the US government as a potential witness, a development that could be used as leverage to pressure Mr Cohen to work with the special counsel examining Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It is likely he will assist federal prosecutors in Manhattan with their probe into.

Nonetheless, Mr. Freidman's agreement to cooperate in his tax fraud case in Albany could have larger implications.

The plea by Evgeny Freidman, a taxi operator who was charged with failing to pay $5 million in taxes, could provide the government with a new source of information about Cohen.

Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, who has obtained some of Cohen's financial records, told the BBC that reports filed by Cohen's bank to the Treasury Department said Cohen had received money from "Ukrainian interests".

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"The "Taxi King" built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers-pocketing money that should instead have been invested in our transportation system", said Schneiderman.

Cohen's private office was raided in April by federal agents and several of his business records were seized, including those about payments to Daniels.

"I am one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate my medallions according to the rules of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission", Cohen wrote on his Twitter account.

Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine, which is a legal requirement for such an action. He's a Russian immigrant who once owned over 800 taxi medallions.

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Last year, Freidman was charged with four counts of tax fraud and one count of grand larceny for failing to collect more than $5 million in 50-cent fare surcharges meant to help fund mass transit. NY medallions, valued at over $1 million apiece as recently as 2014, now sell for about $120,000-mostly through bankruptcy and foreclosure sales.

Freidman texted a New York Times reporter about the article that had been published about his guilty plea, calling it "shameful" and comparing it to a tabloid story. So we all know how this guy feels about these investigations.

"Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other", he tweeted.

Sources close to the situation told the BBC that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arranged to pay Cohen at least $400,000 to set up the meeting, which took place at the White House in June.

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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.