Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Cohen And Trump-- The Unbreakable Bond Of Third Rate Scumbags


I have to admit... it's fun to beat up on a puffed up bully like Michael Cohen-- Trump's bargain basement Roy Cohn wannabe. Since childhood, Cohen has been a Mob-connected asshole and his Mob connection helped acquire a once valuable collection of New York and Chicago taxi medallions-- once but no longer. 70% of business travelers now use Uber or Lyft instead of taxis. Taxis now get just 6% of ground transportation. Cohen's 32 leveraged medallions were once worth about a million dollars each. The value is around $160,000 each now-- and falling. In other words, he owes millions of dollars on the medallions.

And it's not like Cohen is going to make up for his bankrupt taxi companies with income from his "law practice." He's a laughing stock as an attorney. In fact Rolling Stone's Seth Hettena looked back into Cohen's past practice and it's as completely predictive of his current predicament as you could possible imagine. Cohen met his pre-Trump/pre-Hannity clientele by roaming NYC courthouses "filing lawsuits on behalf of people with little means who were seeking compensation for the injuries they suffered in car collisions. Many personal-injury lawyers make their living this way, but there was something striking about Cohen's cases: Some of the crashes at issue didn't appear to be accidents at all... [but] deliberate, planned car crashes as part of an attempt to cheat insurance companies."
[I]nvestigations by insurers showed that several of Cohen's clients were affiliated with insurance fraud rings that repeatedly staged "accidents." And at least one person Cohen represented was indicted on criminal charges of insurance fraud while the lawsuit he had filed on her behalf was pending. Cohen also did legal work for a medical clinic whose principal was a doctor later convicted of insurance fraud for filing phony medical claims on purported "accident" victims. Taken together, a picture emerges that the personal attorney to the president of the United States was connected to a shadowy underworld of New York insurance fraud, a pervasive problem dominated by Russian organized crime that was costing the state's drivers an estimated $1 billion a year.

...In one case, Cohen filed a bodily injury lawsuit on behalf of a woman named Tara Pizzingrillo, who was a passenger in a car that was struck by a rented vehicle in 1999 in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn. In the 2002 complaint Cohen drafted and filed, Pizzingrillo sued the driver of the rental, Brian McFarland, claiming that she suffered bulging discs, and demanding $1 million from Enterprise Rent-A-Car's parent company, ELRAC Inc.

While the case was making its way through the courts, however, both Pizzingrillo and McFarland were indicted for their roles in a criminal ring that staged accidents using rented U-Haul trucks. Pizzingrillo, McFarland and others took turns renting U-Hauls, and, after obtaining insurance coverage, plowed them into vehicles occupied by friends in order to file bogus injury claims. Damian S. Jackson, who prosecuted the case when he worked at the New York Attorney General's office, did not recall Cohen's lawsuit, but said the events it described were typical of the ring's scheme. "They were basically being crash test dummies in each collision," Jackson says. The U-Haul ring submitted more than $350,000 in fraudulent personal injury claims before they were caught. Both Pizzingrillo and McFarland pleaded guilty to third degree insurance fraud, and Cohen's lawsuit was withdrawn. Pizzingrillo did not respond to a message seeking comment.
I used to live in Sheepshead Bay. It and the surrounding neighborhoods are now Russian Mafia-controlled hellholes-- and, though Brooklyn went overwhelmingly for Clinton (79.7% to 17.9%), these Russian neighborhoods went for Trump. Sheepshead Bay voted 66.75% to 29.47% for Trump. Neighboring Brighton Beach, basically all Russian, went 68.79 to 26.92 for Trump. Avenue U in Brooklyn used to be part of the liberal Democratic heartland; now it's like Moscow-- and filled with crooked people who are not friends of America and who make a living by stealing whatever isn't nailed down-- perfect little Trumpists. Rolling Stone reported that "Not only did Cohen represent clients in staged accidents, but some of his clients may not have been in the vehicle when the phony crash occurred. Another of his clients, a Haitian immigrant named Marie Pierre, was sued by State Farm in 2001, after an investigation determined she was involved in another fraud ring that used stolen identities. "Her account of the accident is [so] completely contradicted by the police report that it must be questioned whether she was present at the event," a lawyer for State Farm wrote. Pierre testified that the black 1988 Chevrolet Caprice she was riding in was being driven by a man; the police report listed the driver as a woman. Pierre identified the driver of the other car involved in the crash as black; he was white. Pierre said the vehicle she was riding in was stopped when it was struck in 1999 on Avenue U in Brooklyn; it was moving."

Basically all of Cohen's clients were crooks. They still are-- just on a higher level.
Cohen's work on behalf of accident victims was, if nothing else, prolific. In Cohen's challenge to the April 9th raid, his attorneys told a Manhattan judge that Cohen had "hundreds of different clients" from 1996 to 2006, when he ran his own private legal practice. "Negligence," which likely included the bodily injury claims filed on behalf of accident victims, then represented 90 percent of his legal work, Cohen said in a unrelated deposition obtained by Rolling Stone. Much of this work consisted of filing private arbitration claims, which are typically not a matter of public record. However, auto insurers dragged Cohen into court nearly 100 times between 1998 and 2003, asking judges to halt numerous claims he had filed for a variety of reasons, including fraud.

It's not clear how the "hundreds of different clients" Cohen represented found him. While many personal injury lawyers take out ads on TV or plaster their faces on highway billboards, Cohen kept a relatively low profile; one of the addresses he used on accident cases was a remote taxi garage in Long Island City, Queens, where he managed a fleet of yellow cabs with his Ukrainian-born business partner, Simon Garber. Investigations from the same period by insurers and the FBI found other lawyers worked within sophisticated insurance-fraud networks that could have been cooked up by Saul Goodman, the ethically compromised lawyer on the hit TV series Breaking Bad, though there is no evidence that Cohen ever knew that any of his clients were involved in these schemes. Some unethical lawyers paid "runners" or "steerers" who staged accidents or monitored the police radio, and then raced to the scene of a crash to drum up business before the ambulance arrived. Neighborhood medical clinics, often established for the sole purpose of billing insurance companies for unnecessary tests and medical services, would refer clients to lawyers in exchange for kickbacks. A 2006 report on auto insurance fraud by the New York Attorney General's office noted that "crooked lawyers are necessary to advance fraudulent lawsuits based on feigned injuries."

Incidentally, Cohen also did legal work for Life Quality Medical P.C., whose principal, according to a ProPublica/WNYC investigation, was Dr. Zhanna Kanevsky. Kanevsky was indicted in 2005 by the New York Attorney General's office on charges of insurance fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records for her role in a fraud ring that was secretly run by a Ukrainian émigré and his wife. According to the indictment, all clinic patients were given three expensive MRI scans, kidney sonograms and nerve testing, and all received the same medical treatment, regardless of injury: physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture treatments several times a week. Kanevsky pleaded guilty and lost her medical license for three years. Cohen, who was the contact attorney for any lawsuits against the clinic, was not implicated in the case. However, an attorney named Albert Rudgayzer was indicted; according to prosecutors, Rudgayzer paid the clinic owners for referring clients and then shared a part of the proceeds from settlements of bodily injury claims. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was ordered to pay about $120,000 in restitution and fines.

Several investigations have also found that Russian organized criminals were behind what turned out to be massive insurance fraud operations. A sprawling investigation in Suffolk County, New York that indicted hundreds of people involved in more than 1,000 phony accidents in the early 2000s was known as "Operation BORIS"-- an acronym for Big Organized Russian Insurance Scam. The frauds have only grown in subsequent years. A 2012 investigation by the FBI found a Russian organized crime ring (which involved three attorneys) was behind a $275 million auto insurance fraud ring, the largest in history. (One of the defendants in that case, Michael Barukhin, moved into a Trump-branded tower in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida while his case was pending.) "Back in the Soviet days, ripping off the government may have been the single largest industry outside the military in the entire country," says James Quiggle of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a not-for-profit group funded by insurers. "What developed was an entire generation of hoods with very good criminal skills."
My first knowledge of Trump was when I used to visit my pre-high school girlfriend on Ave Z and Trump worked for his crooked KKK father developing a property nearby. The Trumps were looked at as racist, rich trash by everyone in the neighborhood. No one wanted them around. Woody Guthrie lived in the development, Beach Haven-- and wrote a song about it, "Old Man Trump."
I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project...

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At 5:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to die laughing over the graphic - Cohen and Trump as Latka and Louie.

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