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Friday, May 30, 2008

Air America Scam Artist Arrested

Evan Montvel-Cohen, the man that stole from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in Co-op City,Bronx, to finance the starting costs of starting Air America Radio, was arrested in Guam on Thursday.

Montvel-Cohen was the founder and first chairman of Air America.

He has been indicted in Hawaii for money laundering and theft of $60,000 from a Honolulu landscaping firm.

Montvel-Cohen was released and placed under house arrest after posting a $75,000 personal recognizance bond.

The grand jury indictment charged him with, 1st Degree Theft, Fraudulent Use of Credit Card, Forgery, 2nd Degree Theft, Money Laundering.

Montvel-Cohen, 43, was never charged here, but two other directors at Gloria Wise pleaded guilty to misappropriating $1.2 million, some of which was used for personal expenses for club officials, including cars and home renovations.

The $875,000 was repaid by Air America only after DOI launched a wide-ranging probe into the transfer of city and state funds meant to help children and the elderly in the northeast Bronx.

Cohen was the Director of Development for the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Clubs, in 2003, when he and business partner Rex Sorensen, CEO of Sorensen Media Group, created Progress Media Inc.

On March 31, 2004, Air America was launched. It was discovered that Cohen had secured part of the money used to found the network by a loan from his employer, the non-profit Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Clubs.

Approved by the board of directors and in the amount of $480,000, it went to Cohen's company Progress Media, then owner of Air America Radio. The Gloria Wise group was a non-profit organization, partially funded by the city of New York, which provided services for children and seniors in the Bronx.

When the funds were transferred, Evan Montvel-Cohen, was still Director of Development for Gloria Wise. This was part of a larger misappropriation of funds by the organization's executives, which saw several of them receiving money from the organization that was in turned used for personal expenditures.

By the time this was revealed, Progress Media Inc. had sold its Air America rights to Piquant LLC (in November 2004), who later agreed to repay Gloria Wise $875,000 worth of the debt, as a condition of the sale.

To escape prosecution, Montvel-Cohen fled to Hawaii, where he allegedly committed the crimes to which he was indicted for there. Then he fled to Guam and he was was returning from the Philippines when the outstanding warrant was discovered.