Michael Cohen has been involved in politics since 1988 when as a student he volunteered for the Michael Stanley Dukakis presidential campaign, but his popularity seemed to have grown the most following his involvement with America’s 45th President Donald J. Trump.
Cohen, who is a former American attorney, served as Trump’s lawyer and close confidant from 2006 until May 2018 when he was found guilty on eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. Obviously, Trump’s “fixer” as he is popularly called by the media, has looked after Trump’s interests for years, even before his time at the White House.
He was the Trump Organization vice-president and personal counsel to Trump himself. He also served as co-president of Trump Entertainment and a board member of the Eric Trump Foundation. He even served as the deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. However, his recent run-ins with the law have flushed away all the reputation he had built over the years.
For his crimes, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison, asked to pay a fine of $50,000, and was disbarred by the Bar Association. The former lawyer began serving his jail term on May 6, 2019, at the minimum correctional facility in New York. On May 21, 2020, he was granted leave to serve out his remaining sentence at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is a popular expression which goes thus, ‘when a person gets sentenced to prison, the whole family serves the sentence.’ Cohen’s family has not had it easy following his arrest and incarceration. Stigmatization, humiliation, emotional strain and trauma are some of the things they have had to deal with.
Who are His Family Members?
The former New York attorney is married to Laura Shusterman. The duo got married in 1994 at an elaborate ceremony held at The Pierre hotel in Manhattan. Laura Shusterman is a Ukrainian-born American. Her family emigrated to the states and in 1994, the same year she met and married her husband.
Their union of over two decades has produced two lovely children- their daughter Samantha and son Jake. It was Laura’s father, Fima Shusterman, who introduced Michael to President Trump, according to author Seth Hettena in the book Trump/Russia: A Definitive History. Hettena further alleged that Fima was a silent business partner with Trump and he employed Cohen as a favor to his father. However, Cohen calls the claims false.
Cohen’s extended relatives include his parents, Maurice and Sondra Cohen, and his brother, Bryan Cohen. Maurice, a retired surgeon, and Sondra, a retired nurse, reside in Boca Raton, Florida. His parents-in-laws Fima and Ania Shusterman have maintained a close relationship with the family. Fima and his daughter Laura have been accused several times of having close ties with organized crime syndicates. Ania and Fima Shusterman own property in the Trump Towers in New York. His father-in-law reportedly loaned a Chicago taxicab company owner, Yasya Shtayner, at least $20 million. Shtayner was mentioned in the FBI warrants and reportedly received about eight loans from Fima Shusterman in less than a year.
He and Cohen’s father-in-law Shusterman are both immigrants from Ukraine and they both owned condos in one of Trump’s development in Miami but Shtayner reportedly used his own condo unit as loan collateral from Shusterman. Shusterman was charged in 1993 for conspiring to defraud the IRS in connection with his own New York taxi business.
Cohen’s Life Before the Long Battle With Trump
The Jewish American was born Michael Dean Cohen on August 25, 1966, to Maurice Cohen, a surgeon and Holocaust survivor who later emigrated to the United States, and his mother, Sandra, who was a practicing nurse.
Cohen is a New York native who grew up in the town of Lawrence on Long Island and attended Lawrence Woodmere Academy before enrolling at American University where he graduated in 1988 with his BA. In 1991, he bagged a Juris Doctor degree (JD) from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and thereafter began his law career.
Michael Cohen developed an interest in politics during his university years and in 1988, he practically volunteered to work on the presidential campaign of Massachusetts’s 65th Governor Michael Dukakis. At the same time, he served as an intern for Congressman Joe Moakley.
Cohen began his legal career as a personal injury lawyer in 1992, a year after obtaining his JD. In 2003, his interest in real estate made him work with different law firms, the same year he ran for the New York City Council as a Republican but was unsuccessful. He even campaigned briefly for a seat in the New York State Senate in 2010. But as a Trump admirer, he decided to join the Trump Organization back in 2006, and from then onwards, he began to work for the real estate billionaire.
Michael Cohen was in 2008 named COO of Affliction Entertainment, a mixed martial arts promotion company in which trump was a major shareholder. He has made several controversial remarks in the defense of Donald Trump. One of his statements that spoke more about his loyalty to Trump was in an interview with ABC News in 2011 when he said he would do everything in his power to resolve a problem to Mr. Trump’s benefit.
In 2018, Cohen resigned as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chairman. His letter of resignation cited the ongoing FBI investigations against him, among other issues. The FBI raided his house, office, and hotel room in April 2018, leading to the seizure of his business records, tax records, and emails.
After surrendering to the Bureau on August 21, 2018, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight offenses, including tax evasion and lying to Congress. He was in December 2018 sentenced to three years in prison. Cohen blamed Trump for leading him in the wrong path and for using him to cover his ‘dirty deeds’.
How did the Sudden Turnaround Affect His Family?
I want to wish my wife and moms everywhere a happy and joyous Mother's Day! pic.twitter.com/XSgXLMIqOa
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) May 8, 2016
The family of four had everything going for them until Cohen’s legal woes began. The mental and emotional strain they were subjected to led to significant weight loss and depression. A lot of friends, for fear of not being indicted, cut ties with the family. They lost their respect and prestige in the Jewish community. The family also has lost all right to their privacy as they were followed everywhere by cameramen and photographers.
The period leading up to Michael Cohen’s conviction was indeed a trying time for his relatives. The day the former attorney was to be sent away to prison was the toughest moment his family has had to endure. His son, Jake, accompanied him to the salon for a haircut over the weekend. Typically, the paparazzi didn’t allow them personal time as they trailed them all the way.
On May 6, 2019, the day he was to be driven off to prison, Cohen stood outside his Park Avenue apartment building and delivered a very brief farewell speech. After he was done with his address to the pressmen gathered outside his apartment, the former U.S attorney made his way into a waiting car and drove off unaccompanied by his relatives and family members. Later, it was revealed that he insisted his family members stayed upstairs in a bid to protect them from the press.
What Are They Up To Now?
The family of the disbarred New York State lawyer is back to living their normal lives. Before he was incarcerated, Michael and his entire family attended Samantha’s graduation ceremony from the University of Pennsylvania. The beautiful model is currently seeking employment opportunities. Jake, on the other hand, is enrolled at the University of Miami and will be graduating in 2022.
His Last Days of Freedom
Cohen spent weeks leading up to his incarceration trying to make up for lost times with his family and preparing them for his impending absence. He visited most of his loyal friends and extended relatives. The former presidential aide even had dinner with his wife’s parents and his parents at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan. In the least, his family was accorded enough time to get fond memories that will last them while he is doing his time.
Final Days of His Life in Prison
Michael Cohen’s family received the news of his early release with joy. The United States Attorney General had earlier ordered the bureau of prisons to place some white-collar inmates under house arrest due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen got out on May 21, 2020, and is currently under house arrest for the remainder of his prison sentence.
His Net Worth Crumbled Alongside His Career
The 6 feet 1-inch tall American lawyer is believed to have garnered a lot for himself mostly during his service as Trump’s personal lawyer and the lawyer of The Trump Organization. But just as his career crumbled, his net worth experienced a dramatic fall. Cohen’s net worth as of 2019 was estimated at -$1 million, according to Celebrity net worth. Before his ordeal with the FBI which led to his three years prison sentence, he reportedly had an estimated net worth of $20 million.
When Michael Cohen worked as Trump’s lawyer, he had an annual salary of $1 million. He also earned quite a lot from his investment in New York City taxis medallions and from his real estate business. Cohen had at a time claimed to have a net worth of about $40 million but in April 2018, the Washington Post reported that he might have used his taxi companies as collateral for a loan and that the value of his taxi medallions has dramatically declined from over $1 million to less than $200,000 each, in recent years.