May 23, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The self-proclaimed ‘Taxi King’ has pleaded guilty to state tax fraud, the New York Attorney General announced yesterday.
Evgeny A. Freidman, 46, who at one time was the CEO of Taxiclub Management Inc., with a fleet of 800 medallion taxicabs operating out of Long Island City, Woodside, and other locations in the city, pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud, and agreed to pay back $5 million to the MTA in taxes he owes the state.
“Today, the ‘Taxi King’ admitted that he built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a statement released yesterday. “Freidman pocketed money that should have provided much-needed investment in our transit system – and he’ll now have to pay back every cent. Our office will continue to hold accountable those who cheat the system.”
The guilty plea follows an indictment filed last year, which charged Freidman and his Taxiclub Management business partner, Sunnyside resident and attorney Andreea Dumitru, with criminal tax fraud and grand larceny.
The indictment alleged that from 2012 to 2015, Freidman and Dumitru schemed to avoid paying the “MTA Tax”, an automatic fee taken from taxicab rides that goes to the state, by filing improper or falsified tax returns.
As part of his guilty plea, Freidman must pay restitution in several installments, and execute a closing agreement with the Department of Taxation and Finance to pay off the MTA taxes he withheld. In all, Freidman will give back a total of $5 million.
In addition, his sentence will be adjourned to allow him to complete the payment, and he will be sentenced to five years probation if he sticks to the agreements.
While Freidman’s guilty plea has been filed, the charges against Dumitru remain pending.
In a separate case, Dumitru was charged with immigration fraud in March by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office. She is alleged to have submitted fraudulent forms for over 180 clients and to have knowingly made false statements about them. Her charges carry prison sentences of 10 years and five years, respectively.
Freidman’s guilty plea is also reportedly tied to the federal government’s case into whether Russian meddling occurred in the 2016 presidential election.
Freidman, who was once business partners in the taxi business with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, is reported to have agreed to cooperate with the government as a witness, according to the New York Times.
The Times says the agreement could signal a push to get Cohen to work with the special counsel’s Russian interference investigation.
Cohen, however, tweeted this morning that he and Freidman had “never been partners in this business or any other.”