A federal prosecutor told a judge on Friday that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should spend between 51 and 63 months in prison for a range of federal crimes including tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws.
Cohen, according to Robert Khuzami, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has helped Special Counsel Robert Mueller with ‘information that assisted … in ongoing matters.’
But the level of cooperation, Khuzami wrote, was too small to warrant more than token leniency. And Cohen, he revealed, made an ‘affirmative decision not to become’ a cooperating witness.
‘Cohen’s description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others,’ he wrote. ‘To be clear: Cohen does not have a cooperation agreement.’
‘Cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,’ he wrote in a sentencing memorandum published Friday.
‘Now he seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time – based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes; his claims to a sympathetic personal history; and his provision of certain information to law enforcement.
‘But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).’
Khuzami told the court that Cohen should be punished for ‘extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct,’ and that ‘a substantial prison term is requireda.’
Longtime friends of Cohen have assembled a counter-narrative to bolster the former Trump lawyer as he tries to stay out of jail – lauding him as a family man who provided advice on school bullying and once offered to buy his teacher a car.
Cohen, who is best known as a fixer for
He wouldn’t so much as sip a glass of wine at a dinner with an acquaintance who proposed selling artisan chocolates, locally grown fresh fruit and nuts at a Trump golf pro shop in California, one friend attested.
‘He is what I call the true meaning of a “mensch,”‘ wrote real estate agent Kelly Gitter, in one of the 37 letters that Cohen allies sent to the judge hearing his case.
President Trump has termed Cohen ‘weak’ for cooperating with prosecutors and said he should serve a full sentence, while zealous presidential allies have called him a ‘rat’ for cooperating.
‘He is what I call the true meaning of a “mensch,”‘ wrote real estate agent Kelly Gitter in one of many testaments to Michael Cohen
But according to a letter submitted by Cohen’s father, he once earnestly promised an elementary school teacher he would buy him a car to replace his junker.
‘He is my beloved son. A brief story can explain a great deal,’ Maruice Cohen, who survived the Holocaust, wrote the court.
‘As a young student, perhaps 8-10 years old, my wife and I had a parent-teacher meeting … This teacher said “I must share this with you. Michael saw me driving an old car, which did not start right away and the next day in private, he said to me: ‘Sir, when I grow up, I will get a job, work hard, and buy you a new car,” according to the letter.
One man who knows Cohen, Cory Colligan, wrote to reveal some of the acts of kindness Cohen had done him.
‘On one occasion, I had asked him if he could have Mr. Trump personalize a copy of ‘Art of the Deal’ for a special friend’s birthday,’ he wrote.
Michael Cohen offered to buy his elementary school teacher a car, his father Maurice wrote the federal court in a letter for his sentencing
Cohen referred to his son as his ‘oxygen’
Cohen is a family man who ‘has not smoked, has never taken drugs and prior to his now infamous Scotch on the rocks, I have neer known him to’ drink, a friend, Kimberly Green wrote the court
Cohen helped arrange a Skype call to give anti-bullying advice
Friends lauded Cohen’s devotion to family. Here Cohen leaves his Park Avenue apartment with his daughter Samantha Blake Cohen
‘Michael replied ‘of course’ and it was done. In a world of quid pro quo, it was so nice to connect professionally with someone who was so nice, down to earth, genuine and sincere,’ Colligan added.
Then he mentioned the time he made a pitch to Trump’s longtime fixer about providing a service for a Trump golf course in Fresno.
‘As the project progressed, we spoke about the possibility of my company supplying gift baskets, artisan chocolates, locally grown fresh fruit and nuts to the pro shop when it was completed. I also mentioned that my best friends were local wine and spirits distributers,’ he said, noting that Cohen was helpful.
Colligan described how Cohen maintained decorum during a dinner in a private home. ‘Even though wine was served, Michael did not drink because he worked for the Trump Organization. Even though we were all casually dressed, Michael remained in his jacket and tie because he worked for the Trump Organization.
Cohen emerges as a figure who is happy to give out his business card, and line up contacts for virtual strangers as well as longtime friends and people he knows from his children’s school.
Cozy Friedman, whose letter bears the logo of Cozy’s Cuts for Kids, writes: ‘He was very eager to help me, took time from his incredibly busy schedule to read my business plan and offer advice, as well as to make introduction that proved to be very helpful as I build my business.’
‘As a token of my appreciation, I have him a gift certificate to a local restaurant, which in turn he gave to his son to take my son out for dinner,’ Friedman noted.
It wasn’t the only free meal Cohen turned down.
FROM SOUP TO NUTS: Cohen always called to say thanks for gift baskets from an associate
He fielded a proposal to have a local purveyor supply fruit, nuts, and gift baskets for a Trump pro shop
Kelly Gitter, the real estate agent who called him a mensch, said when she asked for help during a housing downturn: ‘He literally picked up the phone while I was sitting with him in his office and made the introduction right then and there. Mind you, it should also be noted, that he had two other calls on hold and a lunch meeting at Trump Tower Bar & Grill,’ she wrote the court.
She offered to take Cohen to dinner to show appreciation.
‘Michael flatly refused and instead suggested that if I were to do anything on his behalf, it would be to make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,’ she wrote.
‘Michael quite simply, and in my opinion, has always been selfless in his insatiable desire to help others.’
Steve Weatherford, an NFL punter who played for the New York Giants, said Cohen was always supportive of his charity foundation. It even earned Cohen a ‘game ball.’
‘After my teammates and I won Super Bowl 46, Michael was the first person I called when I exited the team plane in Newark, New Jersey,’ Weatherford wrote.
‘I think so highly of Michael that I gave the Super Bowl special team’s game ball to Michael,’ he wrote in his letter to the court.
Cohen’s good deeds ranged from the business to the personal.
‘When a good friend of our s went through a very painful divorce, Michael recognized the pain their son was going through and offered and delivered paternal advice when the boy’s father could not be there for him,’ wrote Erik Ekstein.
‘There is no question in my mind that this fatherly touch helped keep this young man in line.’
Cohen helped a son’s friend with ‘paternal advice’ during a painful divorce
Cohen even abstained from alcohol, mostly – although he told a judge during his guilty plea that the night before he had ordered a single malt Scotch.
‘As long as I have known Michael, he has not smoked, has never taken drugs and prior to his now infamous Scotch on the rocks, I have never known him to even consume small quantities of alcohol,’ wrote Kimberly Green.
‘I am personally aware of numerous old friends of Michael’s that he had lost touch with many years before contact him out of the blue for help, requesting financial contributions, business or legal advice,’ she added.
‘When I was starting up a new company in the UK, Michael made it his mission to find me the right people to be involved and that I could trust so that he know that I would be safe,’ she wrote.