A duo in charge of running a taxi cab service with locations in Woodside and Long Island City were arrested and charged for not paying $5 million worth of 50-cent Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) surcharges for each ride.
Chief Executive Officer Evgeny Freidman, 47, and Chief Financial Officer Andreea Dumitru, 41, of Sunnyside operate Taxiclub Management Inc., a company with a fleet of more than 800 medallion taxi cabs with locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Woodside and Long Island City.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion announced on June 7 that the duo were charged on a five-count indictment for theft and failure to remit millions to the New York State Tax Department from 2012 through 2015.
According to Schneiderman, Freidman is also the managing owner of more than 120 companies, which operate several medallion taxi cabs. Two of his four managing agencies are located in Queens: Tunnel Taxi Management LLC at 44-07 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City and Woodside Management Inc. at 49-13 Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside.
He used the managing agencies to lease hundreds of additional medallion cabs from other owners, which earned him the name “Taxi King.” State officials found that during that three-year period, Freidman and Dumitru did not pay the MTA tax but instead improperly filed returns, failed to file returns and filed falsified returns which under-reported the actual number of taxable rides.
“The ‘Taxi King’ built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers – pocketing money that should have instead been invested in our transportation system,” Schneiderman said. “No one is above the law, and my office will use every tool available to hold accountable those who cheat the system.”
The Taxi King has been in hot water before when the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau found that he failed to properly pay his drivers. In 2013, he was ordered to pay $1.2 million to his drivers and then had to pay another $250,000 in 2016 for not fully complying with the 2013 order.
“This indictment exposes a blatant scheme to short-change the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the transportation infrastructure relied on by millions of New Yorkers,” Manion said. “Hundreds of honest taxi drivers did their part in collecting the proper fare, however Mr. Freidman and his business partner are accused of manipulating tax filings to put this money right into their own pockets.”
Freidman and Dumitru are both charged with four counts of first-degree criminal tax fraud and one count of first-degree grand larceny. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of eight to 25 years in jail.