The CEO of a now-shuttered credit union was charged Thursday with accepting bribes from a taxi mogul in exchange for refinancing over $60 million in loans — the latest sign of a crackdown on a predatory industry accused of driving some cabbies to suicide.
Alan Kaufman ran Melrose Credit Union, which was one of the largest lenders of taxi medallion loans until it was closed last year. Among its many clients was President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
The new indictment appears to stem from charges brought by the watchdog National Credit Union Administration against Kaufman last year of unsafe business practices and “personal dishonesty.” Kaufman secretly took bribes from a taxi mogul, Tony Georgiton, as well as an unidentified media company, which sought more advertising from Melrose, according to the indictment.
The National Credit Union Administration’s charges identified the media company as CBS radio.
Both Kaufman and Georgiton face criminal charges for their alleged self-dealing,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.
Kaufman, 60, faces bribery charges that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He was released on $1 million bond. Georgiton, who has reportedly leased cabs to as many as 2,000 drivers through his company, Queens Medallion, also faces up to 30 years for alleged bribery of a financial institution officer. He was released on $500,000 bond.
The indictment claims that Kaufman lived rent-free for two years in Georgiton’s Long Island home starting in 2010. The following year he allegedly persuaded the credit union’s board to purchase the naming rights for a ballroom in Queens for $2 million. The “Melrose Ballroom” was owned by a company controlled by Georgiton, according to the indictment.
Meanwhile, Kaufman personally approved the refinancing of $60 million in loans to Georgiton’s company without disclosing its ties to Melrose’s board, according to the indictment.
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