|Team Xtreme owner John Cohen|
Team Xtreme Racing owner John Cohen is the subject of a legal dispute in his native New Jersey that has resulted in a bench warrant being issued for his arrest.
Cohen is accused of failing to comply with a court order requiring him to pay $55,000 to a pair of former partners in a failed Manhattan night club.
Cohen told NJ Advance Media reporter Steve Politi today that he is a victim of mistaken identity, saying, "It's a story that's not true. I didn't make the settlement."
Plaintiffs Anthony Santucci and Jeff Rezink claim they were victimized after agreeing to pay Cohen a total of $85,000 for partnership in a proposed Manhattan night club. Their involvement was contingent on Cohen securing a liquor license, and they allege the Team Xtreme Racing owner failed to secure the license, instead funneling the money to his NASCAR team.
Santucci told NJ.com that Cohen "obviously just pocketed the money. We believe he used (it) to fund his NASCAR team. It completely crushed me. It was my first $50,000 I've saved. I still haven't really recovered. It completely wiped me out."
Cohen has claimed that the settlement order was actually directed at his father, telling NJ.com earlier today, “That's not me. That's my father. That has nothing to do with me."
He subsequently told USA Today that the warrant in question resulted from legal documents being sent to him at an incorrect address.
"The bench warrant was issued because it seems like I wasn't responding to (documents that) I wasn't getting any information about," said Cohen. "Everything was being sent to an address I wasn't living at."
Cohen’s own counsel, Tracey Hinson, denies those allegations, saying her 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.”
Hinson has asked to be relieved as counsel for Cohen, saying in a court filing that he "has made no effort to respond to our telephone calls or correspondence."
Team Xtreme Racing made national headlines when their Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet was stolen in Hampton, Ga., earlier this month while en route to a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race car and transport truck were eventually recovered, but the trailer, assorted parts and equipment remains missing. An arrest warrant has been issued for a “person of interest” in that case.
Team Xtreme Racing is currently entered in this weekend’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, with driver Travis Kvapil. It is unknown if today’s legal issues will affect the team’s ability to compete. They have not raced since finishing 32nd in the season-opening Daytona 500 last month.