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Broadcast exec gets probation after theft


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A state judge sentenced the co-founder of Air America Radio to five years' probation yesterday in the theft of $30,000 from a former Hawaii employer.

Circuit Judge Randal Lee also ordered Evan Montvel-Cohen, 43, to write a letter of apology to Brian Vidinhar, owner of landscaping company Ultimate Innovations Inc.

Lee denied Montvel-Cohen's request for a deferral that would have given him the opportunity to keep his criminal record clean.

Montvel-Cohen's lawyer says his client has paid back the money and asked Lee to transfer the case to Guam, where Montvel-Cohen lives and works as a broadcast executive.

Vindinhar hired Montvel-Cohen to be his general manager. The state says Montvel-Cohen told Vidinhar he paid the company's estimated monthly state general excise tax on three occasions in 2005 with personal checks and received company reimbursement. The state says Montvel-Cohen did not pay the taxes and pocketed the money.

He pleaded no contest to first-degree theft in May in a plea deal with the state. In exchange the state agreed to drop credit card fraud, second-degree forgery, second-degree theft and money laundering charges in connection with other expenditures Montvel-Cohen made on the company's account.

Montvel-Cohen was part of a group that launched Air America Radio, later Air America Media, a talk-show network, in 2004. Actress Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken, now a U.S. senator from Minnesota, at one point had their own shows on the network, which filed for bankruptcy and changed ownership in 2006.