Michael Cohen is being celebrated as a celebrity inside the federal prison where he’s serving time after flipping on his former boss, President Donald Trump.
Prisoners have approached Inmate No. 86067-054 for advice on their legal problems, quizzed him about Trump’s alleged dalliance with porn star Stormy Daniels, and tried to take photos of him on cellphones smuggled into the facility, according to people who’ve spoken to inmates.
Cohen, 52, entered the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, 70 miles northwest of Manhattan, on May 6. He is serving a three-year sentence for financial crimes, including illegal hush money paid to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.
While he was disbarred after pleading guilty to felonies, the lawyer’s expertise is still in demand.
“People have been asking him for legal advice. He is one of the most popular guys in the prison. Many people have been approaching him for help,” said a person close to Trump’s former fixer.
“He’s told friends that people have been super nice to him and he’s finding the whole experience not that bad. He’s been treated like a celebrity in there. People are coming up to him and asking about Trump and Stormy Daniels.”
Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.
Other inmates have been attempting to snap photos of Cohen on cellphones that have been illegally smuggled into the facility, according to “prison coach” Larry Levine, who has several clients serving time alongside Cohen at Otisville.
“People want to get this shit so they can show off,” said Levine, who served 10 years behind bars for securities fraud and narcotics trafficking. “Everyone is trying to one-up each other. If they get caught with that shit, they are fucked.”
Levine said some prisoners may be looking to profit from the situation by selling photos of Cohen, who is being housed in the minimum-security camp, to the news media.
“If you get caught with a cellphone, they would take your good time away. Now they stack more time on you. It’s extremely risky,” said Levine.
Federal inmates are prohibited from possessing cellphones in prison, with those found to be flouting the rules facing a term of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine.
A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said it would investigate any allegations of cellphones being used by prisoners.
“Allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action is taken if such allegations are proven true,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
Several prison consultants approached Cohen offering their services before he was sentenced but he rejected their help, according to a person close to Cohen. Levine runs Wall Street Prison Consultants.
“We break down the judicial process for them from the point of arrest to the point of charging and trial, or if they take a plea agreement,” Levine told The Daily Beast. “I give them the orientation the prison doesn’t.”
Cohen, who is Jewish, requested to serve his time at Otisville, which has a full time Hasidic chaplain, regular religious classes, and weekly Shabbat services. Inmates are served three kosher meals a day and can use kosher vending machines.
Lawrence Dressler, a former Otisville prisoner who served 18 months for mortgage fraud, describes the facility housing about 800 inmates as being like a “summer camp.”
Cohen is not the only household name in Otisville. Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland is serving a six-year sentence for two counts of wire fraud. Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is serving an eight-month sentence after he was found guilty on tax-evasion charges.
Dressler says there is a pecking order among inmates, and Cohen is at the top with his “celebrity status.”
“I heard from guys inside that Cohen is doing OK,” Dressler told The Daily Beast. “He’s hanging around with the Jewish crowd. There’s been no drama with him. I hear more drama about The Situation.”
Cohen might not have gone to prison if Manhattan federal prosecutors hadn’t discovered his role in arranging the payments to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 election. Prosecutors say Trump directed Cohen to pay Daniels $130,000 and get McDougal $150,000 as part of a “catch and kill” operation between Cohen and the National Enquirer.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to bank fraud and tax-evasion charges. The feds say he shorted the IRS more than $4 million.
Cohen was fiercely protective of Trump after becoming his personal attorney in 2006 and joining the Trump Organization, once famously saying he’d take a bullet for his boss. In 2015, Cohen threatened a Daily Beast reporter: “I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly,” Cohen said, “because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?”
His loyalty to Trump crumbled after the FBI raided his home and office in April 2018, culminating with his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
Trump unloaded on Cohen on Twitter, calling him a rat and threatening his family. Cohen repaid Trump by testifying on Capitol Hill, calling the president a “racist” a “conman” and a “cheat,” and alleging he encouraged him to lie to Congress about Trump’s ties to Russia.
Before entering prison Cohen took a swipe at his former boss without mentioning the president by name.
“I hope that when I rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice, and lies at the helm of our country,” Cohen told reporters gathered outside his Manhattan apartment. “There still remains much to be told,” he added, “and I look forward to the day that I can share the truth.”
Cohen is scheduled to leave the big house on Dec. 13, 2021. The only question is whether Trump will still be in the White House.