Arrest warrant issued for #44 team owner

NASCAR team owner John Cohen, whose small Team Xtreme made news last month when it had to miss the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta after its race car went missing in an apparent robbery, said Thursday he never got the paperwork that has resulted in a warrant issued for his arrest in New Jersey. The warrant was issued as part of a 2012 civil lawsuit that Cohen has agreed to settle by paying $55,000 to investors who gave him money in 2010 for a proposed New York City nightclub that never opened. One of the investors also gave Cohen $3,000 to help buy tires for a race in 2010, according to the complaint.

Cohen said in a phone interview Thursday with ESPN.com that he never made a settlement and hasn't lived at the address listed in the lawsuit for months. Cohen also said Thursday that when he first heard of the warrant listing the name John, he thought it could be for his father, who lived at that address and died several years ago. John was his father's legal name, while Cohen's legal name is Jonathan. Paperwork provided by Elliott Malone, an attorney for the investors, shows that at a deposition in May 2014, the listed address for Cohen was the one on the warrant and Cohen never changed his address with the court.

In October, the court ordered Cohen to comply by the terms of the settlement. In January, an order to enforce the investors' rights was issued, and that allowed the investors to get the warrant issued Feb. 27. Cohen said he never got the order to enforce the investors' rights and found out Thursday about the warrant, which was issued the same day his race car was allegedly stolen. The race team will compete with driver Travis Kvapil this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. NASCAR could take disciplinary action against Cohen for having a warrant out for his arrest, but it had not announced any discipline as of Thursday afternoon. ESPN.com

Cohen told USA Today that the warrant was caused by a clerical error. "The bench warrant was issued because it seems like I wasn't responding to [court documents], which I wasn't getting any information about," he said, according to the newspaper's website. "Everything was being sent to an address I wasn't living at." But, according to a court document obtained by NJ Advance Media, Cohen's own attorney, Tracey Hinson, and a paralegal in her office attempted to contact him multiple times – via email, certified mail and over the phone – about deadlines involving a civil-case settlement and the arrest warrant during the fall.

In fact, one email – listed as Exhibit L in the 49-page document – was sent from the paralegal Ericka Nelson and delivered to Cohen's address on Feb. 20, with an importance level marked as high. Cohen claims he never received the emails. But Hinson, in the court document, said that her paralegal called Cohen on Jan. 6, 2015 and, while he was on the phone, resent an email with the request for his arrest warrant and asked him to confirm receipt. Cohen, according to the document, told the paralegal that he was in a meeting and would have to call her back. He never did. "Defendant John Cohen claimed for the first time that he had not received the emails or correspondence and further advised that he was in a meeting and had to call her back. This despite the fact that my office has communicated with Defendant via email for the past two years and there had never been any problems with him receiving or responding to emails," the document reads. NJ.com

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