President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, is suing two Chicago taxi medallion moguls over a $6 million loan the couple allegedly failed to repay, and in which their luxury Sunny Isles Beach condo was used as collateral.
In 2012, Cohen loaned Semyon and Yasya Shtayner $2 million, with the loan backed by the couple’s penthouse at Acqualina Ocean Residences, according to the lawsuit. Cohen kept loaning them millions more and by 2015, the total debt was up to $6 million. Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress and has been disbarred by the state of New York, is suing for the full amount owed, plus interest, default interest and collection expenses.
Cohen filed the lawsuit against the couple and the Acqualina condo association in early February. Attempts to reach the Shtayners and the association were unsuccessful.
According to a schedule included in the suit, the Shtayners were supposed to make monthly payments to Cohen of $61,250 beginning in May 2015, with the full principal due in April 2019. Those payments were never made, according to the suit.
“People who borrow money should pay it back,” said Cohen’s attorney, David Haber of Miami-based Haber Law.
That wasn’t the first time the Shtayners received millions of dollars in loans from a member of Cohen’s family. Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, has provided at least $20 million in loans to Yasya Shtayner, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Semyon Shtayner, who is now in the marijuana industry, acknowledged Cohen and his family had loaned him money in the past to finance taxi medallions, but told the Wall Street Journal last year that Cohen has not been involved in his marijuana growing business.
Semyon and Yasya Shtayner were also identified by name in the FBI warrant used to raid Cohen’s law office and home in April, CNN reported at the time. The FBI was searching for documents tied to Cohen’s businesses, including in the taxi industry.
Property records show the Shtayners paid $4.7 million for the Acqualina unit condo in 2009. Penthouse 4506 is four bedrooms and 6,419 square feet. The couple financed the purchase with $2.35 million in seller financing from developer Eddie Trump — no relation to the president. Fima Shusterman also owns a unit in the luxury tower, on the 40th floor. Cohen’s father-in-law paid about $1.5 million for his condo in 2006, the year the building was completed.
The Shtayners and Shusterman immigrated to New York City in the 1970s from Ukraine. Yasya Shtayner’s family owns Chicago Medallion Management Corp., which manages 368 taxicabs through five companies in the city, including some that Cohen own. Nearly 100 of their taxi medallions were in foreclosure as of April 2018.
Last February, The Real Deal reported that much of Michael Cohen’s wealth had been tied up in New York City taxi medallions. At the time, Cohen owned at least 34 medallions through 17 LLCs, according to a TRD analysis. In 2013, when medallion values were at their peak, those plates could sell for $1 million each. That figure has plummeted with the rise of Uber and other ride-hailing apps.
Cohen will begin serving his prison sentence in May for lying to Congress and making cover up payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who allege they had affairs with Trump.