Virgin Islands Radio Station Owner, Utility Company Battle Over Bills
January 13, 2016 at 5:14 AM (PT)
VIRGIN ISLANDS radio station owner JONATHAN COHEN is battling the VIRGIN ISLANDS WATER AND POWER AUTHORITY in a dispute over $56,000 in unpaid electric bills, threatening to pull his stations off the air, then rescinding the threat.
The VIRGIN ISLANDS DAILY NEWS reports that COHEN, whose JKC COMMUNICATIONS, CLARA COMMUNICATIONS, and RADIO 95 own AC WVIQ (SUNNY 99.5 FM), Classic Hits WMNG (MONGOOSE 104.9), and Urban WJKC (ISLE 95)/CHRISTIANSTED, ST. CROIX and operate Country WVVI (CARIBBEAN COUNTRY 93.5)/CHRISTIANSTED, put a message on the air MONDAY threatening to take the stations off the air at 5p over the dispute, then changed the message and stayed on the air. WAPA Exec. Dir./CEO HUGO HODGE JR. called COHEN's threat "a desperate attempt to win public sympathy where no sympathy should lie. If there is anyone whose actions are questionable and unethical, it is those of Mr. COHEN," whose claims, he said, were "baseless and grossly exaggerated."
The parties are battling over an unpaid electric bill and WAPA turning off power to the stations on SEPTEMBER 29th; COHEN said that WAPA rejected his offer to settle the account, forcing the stations onto generator power. HODGE countered that WAPA has "bent over backwards" to work with COHEN on his debt and, in a release, WAPA called COHEN's statement "nothing more than an outright lie and a propaganda campaign generated in a bid to win community sympathy for COHEN’s chronic failure to pay for the electric service his radio stations have utilized.” The release said COHEN has a history of delinquent accounts back to 2013, at times owing over $175,000. For his part, COHEN acknowledges the debt but contends that the bill is inaccurate because of incorrect meter readings.
COHEN pleaded guilty to two counts of willful failure to file tax returns and was sentenced in SEPTEMBER to five years probation and $900,000 in restitution payments. The tax case is unrelated to the power bill dispute.