Mid October, 2014.
Photo by Celeste Sloman Stanley Cohen in his Lower East Side apartment sporting a kaffiyeh — a symbol of Palestinian independence.
Stanley Cohen abruptly stops responding to voicemails. When you dial his cell, you hear the telltale sound of an overseas phone call, followed by a hold message in Arabic.
Cohen is known to friends and foes alike as an eccentric of the highest order, a foul-mouthed criminal-defense attorney with unruly gray hair, a Saddam Hussein-straight-out-of-the-spider-hole beard, and a long history of representing enemies of the people the world over. In a 2002 profile, the Washington Post's Richard Leiby described him as "possibly one of the most hated lawyers in [New York City]." In his Lower East Side apartment, which doubles as his office, he displays photos of himself wearing a wide grin alongside Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of the Middle Eastern terrorist organization Hamas. Only weeks ago he wore a black-and-white-checked kaffiyeh for a press conference outside the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan where he'd just unsuccessfully defended Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking Al Qaeda member ever tried in a civilian court.
But going AWOL like this is a puzzling turn of events even by Cohen standards.
He is, after all, awaiting word on when and where to report to federal prison to serve an eighteen-month sentence for tax crimes. Granted, the date has been delayed repeatedly, but what judge in his right mind would allow Stanley Cohen to...disappear?
"Before you go to prison, you know, you have a party, you see your friends," posits one longtime friend of Cohen's. "This is the kind of guy he is."
Others speculate he has turned government informant.
On October 16, Cohen tweets that he's in Kuwait: "No, I have not dropped off of the face of the earth, I am in the ME for a very short but essential trip."More »