Michael Cohen's longtime business associate strikes deal to cooperate with investigators

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The government of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko paid at least $400,000 to Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of USA president Donald Trump, to arrange a meeting at the White House, according to a blockbuster report by the BBC, citing "sources in Kiev close to those involved".

Yellow cab magnate Evgeny "Gene" Freidman, the so-called Taxi King of NY, pleaded guilty to a single count of tax fraud in an Albany courthouse, nearly a year after state prosecutors and tax authorities charged him with pocketing $5 million in mandatory, per-ride transportation fees.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood confirmed that he will also pay $5 million in restitution to New York State.

"This defendant is the self-anointed taxi king of the city of New York", Healy said. There is no specific mention of cooperation in a transcript of the plea hearing obtained by ABC News, but prosecutor Ben Clark mentioned "other factors known to the AG" in outlining the terms of the agreement. He had been accused of four counts of criminal tax fraud and one count of grand larceny, each punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Before Cohen's intervention, Ukrainian representatives were only able to get a brief photo op for the Ukrainian president - who has been openly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin - with Mr. Trump.

Faced with the fact that friends of Cohen's have said he is absolutely devoted to the president and is committed to never turning on him, Avenatti noted that many people in Cohen's position say that initially. Anything that bolsters that inquiry could increase pressure on Mr. Cohen to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who is investigating the 2016 election that led to Mr. Trump's victory.

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The disgraced taxi magnate also quietly agreed to cooperate with ongoing federal and state investigations in hopes of being spared jail time, The New York Times reported.

Cohen's attorney didn't return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Cohen's attorney, Stephen Ryan, did not immediately respond to questions about Friedman's plea, but in a Thursday morning Tweet, Cohen sought to distance himself from Friedman.

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, walks down the sidewalk in New York, April 11, 2018. Soon after, a government official who leaked the documents to media sources told The New Yorker of concerns that additional such reports were missing from the Treasury Department's "FinCen" database.

The prosecutor said Freidman, a dual citizen of the United States and Russian Federation, owns two homes in the south of France where he often travels.