Before he became President Donald Trump's "fixer" and personal lawyer, Michael Cohen's real estate and taxi cab businesses were marked by the same shadowy dealings that have made him a key player in numerous investigations, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Cohen's notoriety grew exponentially when he was identified as the lawyer who brokered a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels, a porn star who alleges that she had a past sexual relationship with Trump. The hush deal bars Daniels, who is now suing Trump and Cohen to void the deal she argues is invalid, from publicly discussing the alleged affair.
But before he became Trump's all-purpose fixer, Cohen made his bones amassing a trove of pricey and scarce taxi cab medallions, according to the Times' report. The publication scoured a trove of public documents and interviewed people close to Cohen, all of which shed light on his years as a personal injury lawyer and businessman before he joined the Trump Organization.
The Times noted that Cohen and his father-in-law gave more than $25 million in loans to a Ukrainian businessman who has a checkered financial record and a history of defaulting on loans. The publication detailed his links to immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, which extended to his business dealings.
On April 9, federal agents raided Cohen's office, residence and electronic devices, seizing cellphones, hard-copy and digital materials from Cohen. The materials are now in the hands of a so-called special master who will determine which of the materials are not covered by attorney-client privilege, meaning they can be presented in court.
The April raids of Cohen's properties revealed that Cohen, who has been deeply involved in Trump's finances and deals for years, has been under criminal investigation for months.
Some of Cohen's business partners have had past legal troubles, as well. The Times reported that one former associate paid nearly $1 million in fines after Chicago authorities found more than 180 cars that were used in the associate's taxi businesses were unauthorized.
Another partner of Cohen's has been on authorities' radar for suspicion of transferring more than $60 million offshore to avoid paying debts and is awaiting trial on charges of failing to pay millions in taxes, the Times reported.
CORRECTION: This story was updated to delete incorrect references that Cohen paid nearly $1 million in fines after Chicago authorities found that more than 180 cars used in his taxi businesses were unauthorized. The story also incorrectly said Cohen was barred from managing taxi medallions in New York City last April. The newspaper said those cases involved one of Cohen's former business partners.
In addition, an earlier version also incorrectly reported that the Times said Cohen has been on authorities' radar for transferring more than $60 million offshore to avoid paying debts and is awaiting trial on charges of failing to pay millions in taxes. The newspaper said those instances involve a partner of Cohen.