The V.I. government and Jonathan Cohen came to an agreement Monday for Cohen to pay more than $800,000 in back taxes, a deal that was acceptable to U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge George W. Cannon.
But Cohen, even though he was avoiding jail time, was not smiling during his brief appearance in the Christiansted courtroom Monday morning.
The new agreement has a much shorter payback period and a balloon payment (complete payment of balanced owed) when Cohen’s probation period ends in 2019. The agreement that Cannon refused to accept earlier this month would have allowed a nine-year payback period.
In the earlier hearing Cannon had questioned who could guarantee that Cohen would still be alive and here in nine years. He said, “I know for darn sure that I won’t be sitting on this bench in nine years.”
The new agreement calls for $6,000 monthly payments to be paid through the court registry. The first payment is due at the end of March. Besides the monthly payment Cohen will have to make one lump sum payment of $50,000 before the end of 2017 and another lump sum payment of $150, 000 before the end of 2018 and the balanced paid in 2019 before Cohen is taken off probation.
Cannon said Monday the court would be monitoring compliance with the agreement and, if it was not being followed, he would call for a “show cause” hearing. He said, “Hopefully, there will be no reason for a ‘show cause’ hearing or a finding of contempt.”
He added that any findings of contempt would draw “the appropriate punishment.” He said the court order he writes concerning the agreement will include a specific date for the balloon payment.
In 2015, Cohen pleaded guilty to nonpayment of taxes and entered into an agreement to pay back taxes. The deal ran into trouble when attorneys general changed under Gov. Kenneth Mapp.
The case against Cohen began in April 2014 when it was reported that Cohen, sole owner of JKC Communications, Clara Communications and Radio 95, had failed to pay corporate and individual taxes. He was charged with failure to file taxes from 2004 through 2010.
The government alleged that Cohen and his corporations had collective gross income in excess of $10 million during the period of time and failed to pay taxes owed to the Virgin Islands government. The government alleged Cohen also failed to file gross receipts tax returns for the same period.
At the Feb. 17 hearing, both sides agreed that Cohen would pay $32,000 that morning and that he had already paid $53,000.
Representing Cohen at Monday’s hearing was Scot McChain. Raymond James, assistant attorney general, represented the government.