NEW YORK – The Associated Press reported today that embattled Trump attorney Michael Cohen might have connections in the cannabis industry.
The FBI investigation into his financial dealings has revealed that Cohen and his father-in-law have lent $26 million to Russian taxi mogul Semyon “Sam” Shtayner, who is a longtime associate of Cohen’s father-in-law. Shtayner, one day before the 2016 presidential elections, established Cannaboss LLC, a Nevada cannabis and cannabis-infused edibles production company.
Google searches for “Cannaboss LLC” referred to public documents of the business license filing, but no website or further information in reference to the company.
Shyatner, according to information from the Nevada application, “manages over 500 taxi medallions” and indicated that he was seeking to transition from managing the medallions to the legal cannabis industry.
In February, real estate blog TheRealDeal.com analyzed records of Cohen’s holdings and noted that a substantial portion of his assets were also invested in taxi medallions, which had dropped substantially in value with competition from ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber.
Cohen, as of 2017, owned “at least” 34 taxi medallions–at peak value in 2013, the medallions were worth $1 million each, but have dropped in value to less than $200,000 in recent years.
Taxi medallions are metal badges displayed in cabs that allow the owner to operate a taxi or taxi service in cities with the medallion system, including New York City, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. Once consider a solid investment more consistent than the stock market, the value of medallions has dropped significantly since ride-sharing has become more accepted, especially in dense, urban areas.
Both Cohen and his father-in-law Fima Shusterman are reported to have extensive assets involved in taxi medallions. A 2003 city council campaign biography said that Cohen was co-owner of a fleet of 200 taxis.
Media reports said the investigation had been unable to determine if any loans from Cohen may have been used by Shyatner for his cannabis venture.
Cohen’s other recent media attention came yesterday, when it was widely reported that he would invoke his 5th Amendment rights in the case involving an alleged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence regarding an affair with then-private citizen and reality TV personality Donald Trump.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is currently suing to get out of a nondisclosure agreement, apparently brokered by Cohen, that she says is void because now-President Trump never signed it.