Attorney Michael Cohen helped clients who allegedly ripped off insurance companies with staged and deliberate auto crashes, although he’s never been accused of wrongdoing in the schemes.
President Donald Trump’s longtime attorney practiced personal injury law before joining the Trump Organization, and Rolling Stone found that some of his clients were involved with insurance fraud rings that repeatedly staged vehicle “accidents” to exploit New York’s “no-fault” insurance law.
The law required insurers to pay up to $50,000 to victims of an auto accident, and Cohen’s first job out of law school was with Melvyn J. Estrin — who pleaded guilty to second-degree bribery in an insurance fraud scheme shortly after Cohen left his firm.
Cohen was never charged with any wrongdoing in any of the cases examined by Rolling Stone, and there’s no evidence he knowingly filed false claims — and it’s unclear whether the FBI seized any evidence related to his personal injury work during a raid last month.
But at least one of Cohen’s clients was indicted on insurance fraud while their lawsuit was pending, and he also did legal work for a medical clinic whose lead doctor later was convicted of insurance fraud related to staged auto wrecks.
“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,” the magazine reported.
Auto insurers brought Cohen into court nearly 100 times between 1998 and 2003 seeking to halt claims he filed for a variety of reasons — including fraud.
One of his clients, a Haitian immigrant named Marie Pierre was sued by State Farm in 2001, after investigators determined she was involved in a 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,” the insurers lawyers wrote.
State Farm sued four other Cohen clients accused of staging at least 10 wrecks in 2000 and 2001, and the insurer was granted a default judgment after they declined to contest the charges.