Monday, July 14, 2008

Montvel-Cohen goes home, awaits trial

Former Air America Radio executive Evan Montvel-Cohen can go home. For now.

A Hawaii judge allowed Cohen to return to his home in Guam, against the wishes of the prosecution. Cohen was released on $75,000 bail, but he was ordered to return for his trial in September.

The media exec pleaded not guilty on July 7 to charges of theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, forgery, and money laundering for allegedly defrauding a Hawaii landscaping company of more than $60,000. The matter was set for trial for September 8.

Prosecutors wanted Montvel-Cohen, 42, held without bail on theft, forgery, money laundering and other charges, but a circuit judge has allowed the defendant to live on Guam pending trial in the case.

Montvel-Cohen is accused of stealing more than $62,000 from a landscaping company, Ultimate Innovations, where he worked as a business manager in 2005. He was arrested on the Hawaii warrant at Guam International Airport May 27 when he returned there from a trip to the Philippines. He was extradited to Hawaii this month.

Montvel-Cohen stirred up controversy in 2004 during his tenure as chairman of Air America. Prior to the network's launch, Montvel-Cohen and his partner, fellow Guam media mogul Rex Sorenson, formed a company with other minority investors called Progress Media and purchased a large stake in the network from Sheldon and Anita Drobny. Progress Media was soon discovered to be highly underfunded, and the misled investors forced both Montvel-Cohen and Sorenson out of Progress Media and Air America that May. Soon afterward came the revelation that much of Montvel-Cohen's capital came via his director position at the nonprofit Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx, where he acquired more than $800,000 in loans and stirred up a scandal and a New York criminal investigation. The remaining investors of Air America cooperated with authorities and paid back the loan. Neither Montvel-Cohen nor anyone else were charged with criminal offenses in the case.


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