Michael Cohen's business partner agrees to cooperate with the government

A business partner of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen known as the Taxi King has agreed to cooperate with the government as part of a plea deal, according to a person with direct knowledge of the proceedings.

Evgeny Freidman, 47, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a low level felony in New York state court for stealing nearly $5 million in state taxes and has agreed to cooperate in state or federal investigations. The deal, in which he will pay the state $5 million but avoid jail time, was originally reported by the New York Times.

For years, Freidman, a Russian immigrant, has managed Cohen's taxi medallions, which give owners the right to operate New York City yellow cabs. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, referred an ongoing investigation of Michael Cohen to federal prosecutors in New York.

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Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

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Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Freidman's plea deal means he could potentially testify in any criminal case related to Cohen. Cohen has long served as a personal attorney to President Donald Trump.

Multiple people familiar with the proceedings would not say if Freidman's cooperation was specific to the on-going federal criminal investigation into Cohen.

Freidman's guilty plea was announced Tuesday by the New York Attorney General's Office. The attorney general's office and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan would not comment on whether Freidman had agreed to cooperate in any investigation.

Freidman's attorney, Patrick Egan of Fox Rothschild, also declined to comment about whether his client has agreed to cooperate in any investigation. His client was originally charged with five felonies, including tax fraud and grand larceny. Freidman pleaded guilty to evading $50,000 in taxes.

(Evgeny Freidman via Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Egan told CNN that Freidman considered Cohen "a great friend and a wonderful client."

Freidman, a lawyer, was also disbarred earlier this month.

Newly installed state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement, "Freidman pocketed money that should have provided much-needed investment in our transit system - and he'll now have to pay back every cent."

Cohen's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

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