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.
But Cohen's own attorney, Tracey Hinson, and a paralegal in her office attempted to tell him during the fall about the likely warrant several times, according to a document obtained by NJ Advance Media.
"[Their attorney] is doing everything to try to embarrass me," Cohen said in a phone interview. "With everything that happened with the car, he knows he can try to embarrass me."
Malone scoffed at that suggestion, saying it took months to get the warrant and Cohen easily could have avoided the situation if he had paid the settlement. He said his clients, not he, informed the media.
"I couldn't really care less about Cohen or what he does," Malone said. "The only thing I am concerned about is my clients getting the money that was stolen from them. ... He knows very well that he is responsible, he knows very well he has reached this settlement.
"Everything was not only served to him at that address but it was also served to an email address that he uses as well as his attorney, who has communicated that information to him."
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.