Trail of deceit starts in Chicago for Donald Trump's fixer Michael Cohen

ByChuck Goudie and Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Trail of deceit starts in Chicago for Donald Trump's fixer Michael Cohen
Chuck Goudie and the I-Team look into Michael Cohen's claim that he was covering up Donald Trump's "dirty deeds" and the Chicago business connection that helped send Cohen to prison.

NEW YORK (WLS) -- Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years for paying hush money to alleged ex-girlfriends of Donald Trump and for lying to Congress.

But Cohen is also going to prison for tax violations-and a trail of deceit that starts in Chicago, according to federal investigators.

During Wednesday's federal sentencing hearing for President Donald Trump's ex-attorney and fixer, Cohen said it was his duty to cover up Trump's "dirty deeds." The deeds included lies about Mr. Trump's business deals in Russia and sneaking hush money to women who said they had sex with Trump, according to Cohen's guilty plea. And they were dirty deeds done at Mr. Trump's direction, Cohen said, so as not to influence the 2016 election.

Cohen, 52, is going to prison for tax fraud-the largest of which the I-Team has learned involved Chicago cabs that Cohen owns.

He pleaded guilty to concealing more than $4 million from the IRS. According to federal prosecutors "the largest source of undisclosed income was more than $2.4 million that Cohen received linked to the lease of his Chicago taxi medallions between 2012 and 2015."

City records reviewed by the ABC7 I-Team disclose that Michael Cohen has 22 Chicago cab medallions scattered among five companies.

Among the Cohen Chicago taxi firms: Fender Bender Cab Corp and Love Bug Cabs. What got him into tax trouble were business payments from the cab companies that were deposited into his personal accounts and bank accounts in his wife's name-to shield them from the IRS.

On Wednesday Cohen left federal court after paying a stiff price for those taxi-tax violations from his Chicago and New York companies. In addition to three years at the Otisville prison in New York, the fallen Trump attorney must pay almost $1.4 million dollars in restitution, and $650,000 in assorted fines and forfeitures.

The president on Wednesday afternoon dodged questions about his once trusted attorney and fixer packing for prison and prosecutors have made it clear the president isn't off the hook. They say Cohen's hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal were arranged at Mr. Trump's direction and aimed at influencing the presidential election from the shadows.

It seems no coincidence that shortly after Cohen's sentencing the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid admitted to federal prosecutors that he was in cahoots with the Trump campaign in 2016 in the payment of 150-thousand dollars in hush money to Karen McDougal. Prosecutors said the scheme was aimed at keeping McDougal's alleged affair with Mr. Trump away from the voting public.