David Lombino of the New York Sun updates yesterday’s article about MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting’s lawsuit against Air America/Piquant. This morning Lombino reports that the $255,754 lawsuit first reported on by Brian Maloney and me two days ago is part of a larger attempt by MultiCultural to collect more than $1.5 million it says Air America owes it. That’s in addition to the $875,000 the network owes the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club.
From Lombino’s article:
An attorney whose client is suing the Air America radio network said yesterday that the May litigation is part of a larger attempt by the client, an owner of radio stations, to collect more than $1.5 million it says it is owed.
The attorney, Randy Mastro, with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, represents MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting, one of the largest minority-owned broadcasting companies in the country. Mr. Mastro served as a deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration.
The lawsuit filed by MultiCultural in May charges that the transfer of ownership of Air America to Piquant LLC from Progress Media in May 2004 was illegal and was intended only to maintain the network’s assets while abandoning its creditors.
“It’s called a fraudulent conveyance – same people, same assets, they are just trying to avoid their liabilities,” Mr. Mastro said yesterday. “A company that has debts can’t just change its name, assume all the assets, and refuse to pay its liabilities. … The same individuals who contacted us and described themselves as Piquant were also part of the management and ownership of Air America.”
Last November, a court ordered Air America to pay MultiCultural more than $255,000, and the suit filed in May seeks to claim that money.
A spokeswoman for Piquant, Jaime Horn, released the following statement: “At this time we will not comment on this or any litigation resulting from the action of Evan Cohen and Progress Media. If Mr. Mastro wants to argue his case in the press, he is welcome to. We prefer to wait for the more appropriate venue – a court of law.” Evan Montvel Cohen was director of the liberal radio network and a principal of Progress Media.
Lombino also confirms that Evan Cohen’s father died in 1991, as I first reported here two days ago:
Board members of Gloria Wise have described several ways in which Mr. Cohen, who was the club’s director of development, purportedly orchestrated the $875,000 in transfers. Besides loans to the start-up radio network, these included two loans for $35,000 to Mr. Cohen that, board members said, were meant to help him pay for medical expenses for himself and his “gravely ill father.”
But a clipping from the Pacific Daily News, a Guam newspaper, shows that Mr. Cohen’s father, Marvin Montvel-Cohen, died in February 1991, more than a decade before Evan Cohen’s pleas for money.
Attorney Eric O. Costello, who has been commenting on the Air America saga at Captain’s Quarters, has reviewed MultiCultural Radio’s Summons and Complaint, and has written up a six-page discussion of the matter. Read it here.
In related news, Chris Muir of Day by Day reveals the Army’s new “Stealth Body Shield” technology. Fortunately the technology doesn’t work on bloggers:
Although the New York Times’ lack of coverage has received the most attention from bloggers, it’s not the only newspaper that has fallen down on the job. Other New York-based papers, including Newsday, the Daily News, and the Wall Street Journal, have also pooh-poohed or ignored the story. So has the Washington Post.
Reader Dale B. alerted me to an interesting online chat session in which WaPo media/culture reporter Paul Farhi was asked several questions about Air America.
The first question was apparently from a Pentagon worker who doesn’t like blogs (nice to see a government computer being put to such important use):
Pentagon, Arlington, Va.: For those of us who prefer real reporting to blogs, could you please comment on the allegations surrounding Air America.
Paul Farhi: To summarize the allegations: One of the founders of AA allegedly “borrowed” start-up money from a charitable organization he was associated with. The current management of Air America says it had nothing to do with the alleged unauthorized diversion of funds. I don’t really know what’s what, but there does seem to be plenty of smoke here.
Fahri’s admission that he doesn’t “really know what’s what” reminds me of Byron Calame’s admission that there was a lack of awareness among Times reporters and editors “of what the [Times'] competitors across town were writing.”
Later on, someone asks why the Post has been giving the story the silent treatment:
Arlington, Va.: I think the original question asking for real reporting on the Air America investigation was meant to be an ironic comment, given that the Post has not, in fact, reported on it. Any idea why it’s getting the silent treatment?
Paul Farhi: Air America barely registered in the last ratings book here. It isn’t locally based. I guess that combo makes it less than a compelling story for us.
Here comes the good part:
Alexandria, Va.: “Air America barely registered in the last ratings book here. It isn’t locally based. I guess that combo makes it less than a compelling story for us.” I guess that’s why their lead personality was the subject of a long Post magazine story earlier this year.
Paul Farhi: Reasonable journalists can differ. I personally thought that was a dumb story. At the time, you couldn’t even hear AA in Washington. Now you can, and almost everyone chooses not to.
One assumes that since even AAR admitted it couldn’t sustain its countersuit, Multicultural has a high likelihood of winning on the merits — and that AAR will not only have to pay the $1.5 million, but also another round of legal fees. In light of yesterday’s Part II of the [Maloney-Malkin] blog series, one has to ask whether Piquant disclosed all of these liabilities to the potential investors in Nova M, the new company being formed by Piquant/Progress investors to purchase rural radio stations for AAR broadcasts.
I wonder too.
Pirate’s Cove takes a lighthearted look at today’s Air America coverage in the New York Times (scroll to bottom).
As a result of the demand generated by blogs and other web sites, the New York Sun decided to put together a special web page containing all of the Sun’s Air America stories. Good stuff.blog comments powered by Disqus
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