NYC 'Taxi King' accused of failing to pay $5M in taxes

Markets Associated Press

A New York City taxi tycoon has been charged with failing to pay millions in state taxes, authorities announced Wednesday

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Evgeny Freidman was being held in the Albany County Jail on $500,000 bail. Also known as Gene Friedman, he was arraigned in an Albany court Monday on tax fraud and grand larceny charges.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the 46-year-old dubbed the "Taxi King" didn't pay more than $5 million in taxes he owed.

Officials say the taxes are from 50-cent Metropolitan Transportation Authority surcharges between 2012 and 2015.

"The 'Taxi King' built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers — pocketing money that should instead have been invested in our transportation system," said Schneiderman, a Democrat.

Nonie Manion, the state's acting commissioner of taxation and finance, said the cab drivers collected the proper fare but Freidman illegally manipulated tax filings.

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A lawyer for Freidman, Patrick Egan, said Freidman denies all the charges.

Freidman owns hundreds of the New York City-issued medallions that allow yellow cabs to operate.

But the growth of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft has sent the value of a medallion plummeting, from a high of $1.3 million in 2013 to less than $250,000 in 2017.

Freidman has faced mounting legal troubles as he has struggled to maintain his business.

An investigation by the attorney general's labor bureau over payment of drivers resulted in a 2013 settlement for $1.2 million and a 2016 consent order requiring Freidman and four of his medallion management agencies to pay over $275,000 in damages and fines.

A bankruptcy judge ordered him to surrender 46 of his taxis last year.