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This article appeared freely on the Internet on November 4, 2005 at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ct/20051104/cr_ct/sexcomthieffacesjusticeafterhidingoutinmexicoforfouryears and is archived here only for scholarship, research, and personal use by those previously requesting it in accordance with the "fair use" provision in Title 17 Section 107 of the copyright law.
Sex.com thief faces justice after hiding out in Mexico for four years
By J.K. Dineen, Court TV
Fri Nov 4, 2:34 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Court TV) — The high-stakes manhunt that ended with the cuffing of Internet porn site thief Stephen Cohen last week in Tijuana may seem like the happy conclusion to a sordid tale of greed, sex, and the excesses of the Internet gold rush.
But for Web entrepreneur Gary Kremen, the founder of Match.com, the Oct. 28 arrest simply represents the start of a new, difficult chapter: the one in which he and his attorneys try to force Cohen to cough up the millions he owes him.
Four years ago, after a lengthy legal battle, a federal judge found that Cohen — a convicted felon who has served prison stints for forgery and impersonating a lawyer — had hijacked the domain name Sex.com, which Kremen registered in 1995.
The court found that Cohen stole the URL by forging a letter from Kremen's company, and then turned Sex.com into a lucrative pornography Web site that generated between $40 and $60 million in profits.
In 2001, U.S. District Court Judge James Ware ordered Cohen to pay $65 million to Kremen. Cohen instead fled to his estate in Tijuana. The settlement figure, with interest, now stands at $82 million.
Cohen is slated to appear before Ware on contempt of court charges Monday in San Jose, Calif.
The 57-year-old fugitive was arrested Oct. 28 while applying to renew his Mexican work visa. U.S. marshal Don Vazquez said he had a confidential source that provided details of Cohen's whereabouts.
Vazquez said he had chased Cohen in the past, and that his interest in the case was revived on June 28 when Jhuliana Aramis Cohen, the 21-year-old daughter of Cohen's former wife Rosa, was arrested trying to cross San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing with 202 pounds of marijuana. She was sentenced last week to 10 months in federal prison.
Vazquez notified Mexican immigration officials, who were on the lookout for Cohen when he showed up for a routine visa renewal.
"I was at the border waiting for him," Vazquez said. "He tried to talk his way out of it. He was trying very hard to figure out a way not to be expelled from the Republic of Mexico."
'It's classic Steve'
After a jailhouse interview Tuesday, Kremen's attorney Timothy Dillon said Cohen was "heavily medicated and fairly relaxed," but that the discussion was not promising.
"He told me he was flat broke," Dillon said.
The attorney said Cohen offered to settle with Kremen for $100,000 cash, plus three properties. Dillon called the offer laughable — and said it has not improved since the initial discussion.
"I understand his offer is now $75,000 and two pieces of property," Dillon said. "I think it's classic Steve. Here he is sitting in jail, and his offer is decreasing."
Kremen's June 28 lawsuit accuses Cohen of using Jhuliana and six other business associates to fraudulently transfer and conceal his assets in violation of the 2001 judgment.
Dillon said Cohen's money is tied up in ventures including a shrimp farm in Mexico, operated by longtime business associate Jack Hanna Brownfield, and The Bolero strip club in Tijuana, which is in his daughter's name.
Brownfield, who has known Cohen since 1973, said he is not hiding any of his assets.
"Anything that is being hidden is being hidden by Steve for Steve," he said. "I don't know anything about pornography. You want to know something about shrimp, come talk to me."
Cohen's various frauds and clashes with the law go back at least three decades.
In 1975, he was found guilty of grand theft and check fraud. In 1990, he was arrested for operating a sex club in a residential neighborhood. In 1991, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for posing as a lawyer in a bankruptcy court in an elaborate scheme to bilk an elderly woman's creditors out of $200,000.
In a 1999 interview with Wired News, Cohen denied stealing sex.com, claiming that he had been using the business name since 1979 as part of The French Connection, an electronic bulletin board he created for "swingers and nudist camps." He said the "com" in sex.com stood for "communications."
"Steve has always operated his businesses on the fringe, the gray area outside the mainstream, because he subscribes to the theory that that is where the money is," Brownfield said. "He has been in the sex business for many, many years and understands it as well as anyone."
Brownfield said he has tried to convince both sides to settle the dispute. He says legally Cohen was wrong to swipe the domain name, but claims that the convicted felon worked hard to build the business.
"I'm not saying he was entitled to it, but he put on the map," Brownfield said.
Meanwhile, Kremen, a recovering speed addict, splits his time between San Francisco, where Sex.com's office is located, and Rancho Santa Fe, where he lives in Cohen's 9,000 square-foot Spanish-style villa that he took possession of as part of the settlement.
Besides living in Cohen's house, Kremen has permission to open Cohen's mail in the presence of U.S. marshals. He said the former fugitive maintains between 50 and 60 active credit cards and estimated that he has $25 million in various offshore accounts.
Kremen said Cohen regularly has made harassing phone calls and even threatened to have him killed. He said Cohen also ransacked the Rancho Santa Fe property before going on the lam.
"He vandalized it extensively," Kremen said. "He ripped out the wiring. He removed the vegetation. He took the toilets. He took everything that was not nailed down — and some things that were."
This article appeared freely on the Internet on October 28, 2005 athttp://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fi-sex28oct28,0,4207242.story?coll=la-story-footer&track=morenews and is archived here only for scholarship, research, and personal use by those previously requesting it in accordance with the "fair use" provision in Title 17 Section 107 of the copyright law.
October 28, 2005
Stephen Michael Cohen, Jewish Pornographer
Hijacker of 'Sex.com' Is Arrested
By Richard Marosi and Joseph Menn
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
SAN DIEGO — Four years after dodging a $65-million court judgment by fleeing the country, former online-porn mogul Stephen Michael Cohen was arrested by Mexican authorities in Tijuana and handed over Thursday to U.S. agents.
Cohen, a multiple felon and longtime con man, had been on the run since before 2001, when a judge ordered him to pay a San Francisco entrepreneur for hijacking the Internet address Sex.com. In 1995, Cohen forged a letter to Internet authorities to gain control of the address, which he transformed into a highly profitable site for pornography ads.
Cohen, who had been living in a Tijuana mansion, was arrested on an immigration violation by Mexican authorities and turned over to agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Marshals Service, according to Deputy Marshal Tania Tyler.
Cohen was being held without bail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego.
His apprehension was the latest twist in one of the most bizarre and longest-running feuds of the dot-com explosion.
The dispute pitted Cohen against Gary Kremen, a San Francisco engineer and investor who had the foresight to register the Web address in 1994, when names were given out free to the first person who asked.
While Kremen was busy with other things, including the company that grew into online dating site Match.com, he did nothing with Sex.com. But Cohen, fresh off a federal prison term for fraud and forgery, saw the domain's potential.
So in 1995, Cohen presented a forged letter to domain-name registrar Network Solutions, ostensibly from Kremen's company, that said Kremen had been fired and that Cohen should get control of Sex.com. Network Solutions handed the name over.
When Kremen discovered what had happened, Network Solutions said it couldn't help him and suggested that he sue Cohen directly. But Cohen was raking in what grew to be tens of millions of dollars by selling ads on Sex.com, and he and his lawyers put up a fight — so ferociously that the federal judge on the case ordered Cohen arrested for contempt of court.
But Cohen was unavailable. During the years of litigation, he had moved his millions overseas and then left the country himself, occasionally calling Kremen to taunt him.
Kremen got Sex.com back in late 2000 and the next year was awarded $65 million — an amount that has since grown to $82 million, with interest. Kremen has collected some property from Cohen but has yet to break even on his legal fees.
The question now is whether Kremen will be able to collect.
"I'm excited, and I'm happy to prepare for the next stage of justice," Kremen said Thursday. Kremen said he hoped to claim more of Cohen's assets: "Hopefully, I'll get to them before the IRS."
An attorney for Cohen did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Kremen has done well with other investments, which allowed him to pursue the case against Cohen. But he has earned nowhere near the profit from Sex.com that Cohen did.
This article appeared freely on the Internet on October 28, 2005 athttp://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20051028-9999-1mi28cohen.html and is archived here only for scholarship, research, and personal use by those previously requesting it in accordance with the "fair use" provision in Title 17 Section 107 of the copyright law.
October 28, 2005
Stephen Michael Cohen, Jewish Pornographer
Stephen Michael Cohen accused of hijacking Web site
By Onell R. Soto
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
(San Diego Union-Tribune)
You can't escape to Mexico with your millions.
Or so it seems for Stephen Michael Cohen, a former Rancho Santa Fe resident accused of stealing a pornographic Web site and illegally making millions of dollars from it.
Cohen, 57, was living in Tijuana. He was arrested yesterday by Mexican authorities while applying for a work permit. They turned him over to U.S. officials, who had an arrest warrant signed by a San Jose judge.
He is being held without bail and is scheduled to appear in federal court in San Diego today, said Tania Tyler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service, which tracks down fugitives.
"It's good that justice is served," said Gary Kremen, who battled Cohen for years over the sex.com Web site. "It actually says something about border cooperation."
After spending six years and $4.5 million in legal fees, Kremen persuaded a San Jose federal judge to award him a $65 million judgment against Cohen, who, the court found, had hijacked the domain name.
The Web site is primarily a bulletin board with ads for other Web sites offering sexual content, and at times has generated up to $1 million a month, Cohen said.
After the judgment was issued, Cohen failed to appear in court and, in 2001, a federal judge issued an arrest warrant charging him with contempt of court.
The warrant orders Cohen to remain imprisoned until he returns $25 million, which the judge said was illegally transferred out of the country.
Since then, according to court records, Cohen has been living in Tijuana.
Through the courts, Kremen had obtained several of Cohen's assets in the United States, including a Rancho Santa Fe mansion.
He says that, with interest, Cohen now owes him $82 million.
In addition to owning sex.com, Kremen was the founder of match.com, a dating Web site he has since sold.
Cohen's 21-year-old daughter, Jhuliana, was arrested in June after trying to smuggle marijuana into the United States through the San Ysidro border crossing. She is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Kremen has sued her as well, accusing her of allowing her father to put various business interests in her name, including ownership of a large Tijuana strip club.
This isn't Cohen's first time in custody.
In 1993, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison after he was convicted of bankruptcy fraud in San Diego federal court.
This article appeared freely on the Internet on October 28, 2005 athttp://www.thewhir.com/marketwatch/sex102805.cfm and is archived here only for scholarship, research, and personal use by those previously requesting it in accordance with the "fair use" provision in Title 17 Section 107 of the copyright law.
October 28, 2005
Stephen Michael Cohen, Jewish Pornographer
Sex.com Hijacker Arrested in Mexico
WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW
October 28, 2005 -- (WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) -- The hijacker of the sex.com domain Stephen Michael Cohen was arrested in Mexico and handed over to US authorities on Thursday, reports say.
Cohen was reportedly living in a mansion in Tijuana before being arrested by Mexican authorities for an immigration violation. He is being held without bail in San Diego, California.
The convicted felon and former online porn entrepreneur has been on the run ever since being ordered to pay a $65 million settlement for hijacking the sex.com from Gary Kremen back in 2001.
Kremen registered sex.com in 1994. Cohen, obviously seeing the domain's potential, forged a letter to the domain registrar Network Solutions asking that the domain be transferred over because Kremen had supposedly been fired. Network Solutions obliged.
Kremen could not get the domain back and on the advice of Network Solutions sued Cohen directly. By that time, Cohen had made tens of millions of dollars with the domain and had moved his money out of the country. He then left himself.
Kremen eventually got the domain back in 2000. But according to reports, he has only seized some of Cohen's property and has not yet broken even on his legal fees. The $65 million he is owed has now grown to $82 million with interest.
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