By Bill Parry
The self-proclaimed “Taxi King” pleaded guilty last week to felony tax fraud for failure to pay $5 million in 50-cent MTA surcharges between 2012 and 2015, according to New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood.
Evgeny Freidman, 46, the CEO of Taxiclub Management Inc., who has a fleet of 800 medallion taxicabs operating out of Long Island City, Woodside, and other locations around the city, pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud and agreed to pay restitution and judgments totaling $5 million to New York state.
“Today, the ‘Taxi King’ admitted that he built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers,” Underwood said. “Freidman pocketed money that should have provided much-needed investment in our transit system — and now he’ll have to pay back every cent. Our office will continue to hold accountable those who cheat the system.”
The case was the result of a joint investigation by the attorney general’s office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The guilty plea followed an indictment filed last year, which charged Freidman, together with his Taxiclub Management business partner, attorney Andreea Dumitru of Sunnyside, with four counts of criminal tax fraud. Prosecutors alleged the two schemed to avoid paying the “MTA Tax,” which was automatically collected from passengers at the start of their fare, by filing improper or falsified tax returns.
Freidman’s sentence will be adjourned to allow him to complete his restitution payments to New York state, and if he satisfies the terms of the agreement, he will be sentenced to five years probation, according to the AG’s office.
The charges against Dumitru, 42, remain pending. In a separate case, Dumitru was charged with immigration fraud in March by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office for allegedly making false statements on more than 180 asylum applications.
The New York Times reported that Freidman is a “significant partner” of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, and that Freidman agreed to cooperate with the government as a potential witness in state or federal investigations. Cohen is facing an investigation by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, who is examining his business practices. Anything that bolsters that inquiry could increase pressure on Cohen to cooperate with Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr