Though much of Cohen’s current press coverage revolves around his part in the president’s alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, Marshall delves into the attorney’s known connections to organized crime -- connections that began at an early age.
TPM first reported last year that Cohen was actually a childhood friend of Felix Sater, whose father was himself a reputed capo in the Mogilevich organized crime syndicate, said to be Russia’s largest and most dangerous. Filling out this picture of how Cohen fell into this milieu we’ve always been focused on the fact that Cohen’s uncle, Morton Levine, owned and ran a Brooklyn social club which was a well-known meeting spot for members of Italian and Russian organized crime families in the 1970s and 1980s. (Levine, a medical doctor has never been charged with a crime.) But now it turns out there’s a bit more to this story.
After briefly walking through the history of Evsei Agron -- America’s Russian crime boss of the 70s and early 80s -- as well as his successor Marat Balagula, Marshall brings us back around to Cohen:
What I didn’t realize until now is that both Agron and his successor Balagula ran their operations out of an office in the El Caribe social club. So the El Caribe wasn’t just a mob hang out. From the 70s through the 90s at least, the bosses of the Russian mafia in the U.S. literally ran their crime organizations out of the El Caribe.
So Michael Cohen’s uncle Morton Levin’s social club was the headquarters of Russian organized crime in the U.S.
What’s more is that until Trump took up residence in the White House, Cohen maintained a stake in his uncle’s social club.
According to Levine, who is apparently still alive, all his nieces and nephews owned shares of the El Caribe and still do. Levine told the AP that Michael Cohen owned his stake in the club until Donald Trump was elected President when he “gave up his stake.”
One of the abiding questions about Cohen is how he became so deeply enmeshed in the Ukrainian and Russian emigre communities from such an early age and moved so early into businesses with heavy involvement in organized crime. He married a Ukrainian immigrant whose father got him into the taxi business and himself had at least one conviction for money laundering.