In the latest sign that the FBI is closing in on former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, one of the Brooklyn lawyer’s business partners has reportedly agreed to cooperate with the Federal government to avoid jail time.
Evgeny Freidman, who was disbarred earlier this month, had been Cohen’s business partner for years, helping him manage an expansive taxi empire until he was banned by New York City regulators last year after he failed to pay more than $5 million in taxes.
Freidman instead pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion this week.
Instead, he appeared in court in Albany on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a single count of evading only $50,000 worth of taxes; he faces five years of probation if he fulfills the terms of his agreement, the judge, Patrick Lynch of Albany County court, said during the roughly 20-minute proceeding.
“Do you understand the nature of the benefit your attorneys have accomplished on your behalf?” the judge asked Mr. Freidman during the proceeding on Tuesday.
“I greatly understand that and appreciate it,” Mr. Freidman replied.
After Mr. Freidman’s guilty plea, his lawyer, Patrick J. Egan of Fox Rothschild, declined to comment. But earlier this year, he said his client “considers Michael a very good friend and a great client.”
Freidman had been facing four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny – all class B felonies that carried maximum prison sentences of up to 25 years in prison.
Freidman will avoid jail time if he cooperates with state and federal prosecutors in their investigation of Cohen.
Thanks to Freidman’s cooperation, President Trump’s lawyers are growing increasingly worried that Cohen might also take a deal to cooperate with prosecutors against the president as he faces a potentially lengthy prison term. To be sure, Cohen has repeatedly denied speculation that he too might turn on the president, repeatedly saying in the press that he would do anything to protect Trump.
While it’s unclear what, exactly, Freidman might be able to tell the Feds about his partner’s purportedly criminal activities, revelations earlier this month about Cohen’s shady consulting agreements with major US companies seeking to curry favor with Trump have raised questions about whether he might’ve used the president’s name to cash in on his connections. These revelations were made by Stormy Daniels Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who published details from leaked FinCEN suspicious activity reports.