The ties between President Donald Trump’s embattled personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen and Chicago’s taxicab industry go deeper than previously known.
Over the past eight months, Cohen’s father-in-law has given at least $20 million in loans to Yasya Shtayner, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times show. Her family owns Chicago Medallion Management Corp., which manages 368 taxicabs, including 22 owned by Cohen.
Shtayner and her husband Semyon Shtayner — Chicago Medallion Management’s corporate secretary — were identified in a warrant the FBI used to raid Cohen’s law office and home, looking for documents relating to his business interests as well as his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from discussing her alleged dalliance with Trump, according to a CNN report.
Shtayner has received eight loans from Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, according to documents filed with the Cook County recorder of deeds.
Early in March, the records show Shusterman made four loans worth a total of at least $8 million — possibly as much as $16 million — to Yasya Shtayner and two companies she owns, including 2737 W. Fulton LLC, named after the address where Chicago Medallion Management operates.
Last Aug 21, Shusterman gave Shtayner four loans totaling at least $12 million and possibly as much as $24 million.
As collateral, Shtayner used three luxury high-rise condos on Chicago’s Near North Side and properties in the 2700 block of West Fulton.
Separately, Shtayner, her husband and their sons are being sued in Cook County circuit court by a federal credit union operated by the League of Mutual Taxi Owners in New York, seeking to collect a loan of about $3.5 million related to the operation of Chicago cabs.
Shusterman and the Shtayners, all immigrants from Ukraine to New York City in the 1970s, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Shusterman has a condo in the Trump World Tower near the United Nations in New York. He and Shtayner also owns condos in another Trump development in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, outside Miami.
In 1993, Shusterman pleaded guilty to federal income-tax fraud relating to his taxicab business in New York. He paid a $5,000 fine and served two years of probation.
Chicago Medallion Management manages taxis operated by five different companies: Flash Cab, Ace Cab, Yellow Cab, Checker Taxi and 5 Star Taxi. Chicago Medallion has 207 cabs classified as active, according to a website for the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which regulates taxis. The company has 97 medallions in foreclosure, 50 have been surrendered, and 14 others have violations, the Sun-Times has reported.
The Shtayers manage 10 medallions for Cohen. Those cabs are operated by Flash Cab.
Cohen has a dozen other medallions that have been suspended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration for 89 violations, including having expired insurance and license plates. Those Cohen medallions were operated by Dispatch Taxi, a company created by Savas Tsitiridis and Evgeny “Gene” Freidman to operate nearly 400 cabs in Chicago. Freidman and Cohen have been business partners, and both men operated taxis in New York City.
Cohen has about 32 medallions in New York City. His cabs there were once operated by Symon Garber, a Ukrainian immigrant who became Chicago’s taxi king, operating more than 700 cabs after he befriended Patrick Daley, the son of Mayor Richard M. Daley, more than 15 years ago. In Chicago, the mayor controls the number of cabs that can operate in the city.
Garber also owns a company that lends money for the purchase of taxi medallions, including some that were purchased by companies owned by the Shtayners.