UPDATED: Lawyer threatens seizure of race car from NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner reportedly wanted on arrest warrant
UPDATED (5:50 pm ET):
In addition to a reported bench warrant that has been issued for his arrest, NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner John Cohen may soon have a lien placed against his assets, according to a report by USA Today Sports.
Attorney Elliott Malone told the news outlet Thursday afternoon that he is pursuing a lien against Cohen (in photo) that could include the Cohen-owned Team Xtreme and its race cars.
It was reported earlier Thursday by NJ.com that a judge in Essex County, N.J., had issued a warrant for Cohen’s arrest after he failed to pay back an $85,000 court-ordered judgment dating back to last August.
When contacted by NASCAR Talk later Thursday morning, Cohen said Malone was trying to extort him and said there was confusion over the name on the warrant.
USA TODAY Sports reported that court documents indicated Cohen was aware of a pending arrest warrant against him as early as January.
With the No. 44 race car being stolen two weeks ago in suburban Atlanta, Malone said the race car’s value of $250,000 cited by Cohen at the time of the theft prompted him to begin placing a lien on any insurance claims Cohen made on the car.
“That actually works out better because if he doesn’t pay the judgment then I’ll start the process of seizing assets, including the car,” Malone said in an email to USA Today Sports.
An arrest warrant reportedly has been issued for NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner John Cohen, whose team made national news when its race car was stolen in suburban Atlanta two weeks ago.
According to a report Thursday by NJ Advance Media (also known as NJ.com), a bench warrant seeking Cohen’s arrest has been issued in Essex County, N.J.
The warrant states Cohen, of Union, N.J., has failed to abide by a August 2014 court order from a civil lawsuit settlement that he repay two former business partners $55,000 from a failed Manhattan night club venture.
Cohen told NJ.com Thursday morning, “It’s a story that’s not true. I didn’t make the settlement.”
As for the warrant, Cohen told NJ.com, “That’s not me. That’s my father. That has nothing to do with me.”
Later Thursday morning, Cohen spoke with NASCAR Talk, denying the allegations made by Elliott Malone, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the civil case.
“The lawyer is trying to extort me,” Cohen said. “He knew everything that happened last week. He’s using this to make himself look good.”
As for the lawsuit settlement, Cohen said, “My lawyer handled that. I don’t know what the situation is.”
Cohen also told NASCAR Talk that the bench warrant is for a “John Cohen,” but that his full legal name is really “Jonathan Cohen,” and that “John Cohen” lives “at an address I don’t live at.”
When told Cohen denies the charges that resulted in the bench warrant, Malone told NJ.com, “My response is one word: Typical.”
Cohen’s two former partners in the failed night club, Anthony Santucci and Jeff Rezink, reportedly invested a combined $85,000 with Cohen. They allege the money was never used for the club and that Cohen never returned the funds to them.
“He obviously just pocketed the money,” Santucci told NJ.com. “We believe he used the money to fund his NASCAR team.”
Santucci added that the loss of his investment “completely crushed me. It was my first $50,000 I’ve saved. I still haven’t really recovered. It completely wiped me out.”
Cohen owns the Team Xtreme Sprint Cup team, based in Mooresville, N.C.
The organization made national news when its race car was stolen from a hotel parking lot in Morrow, Ga., only to be found abandoned and undamaged on the side of a road less than 24 hours later and about 40 miles from where it was stolen.
A pickup truck used to pull the trailer that transported the race car from Team Xtreme’s headquarters to Atlanta for a race that weekend was found nearly two days later.
The trailer itself, as well as a race engine and assorted parts reportedly worth over $100,000, remain missing.
Despite the bench warrant, the team will be in Phoenix for this weekend’s Sprint Cup race, the CampingWorld.com 500, Cohen told NASCAR Talk.
According to NJ.com, Cohen also is being sued for using “unfair and deceptive trade practices” in the purchase of a race car last year from the now defunct Swan Racing.
The suit is seeking $200,000 in damages from Cohen, according to court documents cited by NJ.com.