Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Judge Orders Briarwood 1 Owner's Arrest

 The owner of the Briarwood 1 building moved one step closer to going to jail after Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeff Reynolds issued an arrest warrant for Michael Kohan today. 

New York resident Mike Kohan owns the building through his company, Briarwood Holding Realty, LLC. The building has been neglected for years and fallen into a serious state of disrepair. Jackson Code Enforcement officers found numerous violations and cited the owner.  

Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Reynolds held a trial in absentia on January 10 as Kohan failed to appear in court.  

The Court found the building suffered from severe sanitation problems, drainage problems. pervasive mold, water "everywhere", and electrical wiring exposed to water. A multitude of residency-challenged individuals inhabited the building, committing more destruction of the property as broken windows and graffiti mushroomed throughout the premises.

Judge Reynolds ruled the building was "dangerous" to the citizens of Jackson and ordered it demolished if it was not brought up to the code to the reasonable satisfaction of the Court. The Court suspended a six-month jail sentence for Mr. New York pending demolition of the building.  Judge Reynolds set his appeal bond at $1 million. 

Kohan's lawyer, John Martin filed an emergency motion to vacate the January 10 ruling and rescind the arrest warrant.   The Canton attorney argued neither he nor his client received a copy of the citation or notice of any hearings.  The Court did not have jurisdiction over the non-traveling Kohan since he was never properly served.  

Judge Reynolds said the city prosecutor stated under oath at the trial that she sent Kohan a copy of the notice and citation through certified mail as tell as notifying him over the phone.  She said she emailed copies as well at Kohan's direction.  

Martin argued that even if such correspondence occurred, his client was still not properly served under the rules. He claimed the summons must be personally served upon his client as actual notice does not cure defective process.  He also said Kohan is not the owner of the building but instead claimed Briarwood Holding Realty, LLC owns the building and the company was not given notice of the citation.  

City Prosecutor Jeffrey Graves said notice can be sent through certified mail, as it was in this case.  Judge Reynolds said Environmental Court does not serve any defendants through personal service.  All citations are delivered via the United States Postal Service.  "I don't believe we issue a citation here and Jackson, Mississippi and serve it personally in New York," opined the jurist.  Section 3.2 (d) of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure states: 

The summons may be served by personally delivering a copy of the summons to the defendant by any officer authorized by law to execute arrest warrants or by delivering a copy of the summons by U.S. mail, addressed to the defendant at the defendant's usual residence, business or post office address. 

Kohan's lawyer tried to argue his client wanted to clean up the property but the Court was having none of it.  Martin said Kohan wants to clean up the property and it "obviously needs work."  He claimed a contractor said the water had not been shut off even though he requested the city do so.  

"It is disingenuous for you to stand and say Mr. Kohan wants to do something about the property when he has utterly ignored the property in this city for years.  Now all of a sudden he wants to do something," replied Judge Reynolds.  

Trying to stave off his client's arrest, Martin said he could be present when Kohan was required to be in court.  The Jackson Municipal Court Judge said Martin's client should be standing before him, instead of the lawyer.  He said there was no sworn proof that Kohan did not know about the case nor was served with notice.  Martin argued his client did not have the funds to pay the appeal bonds as he asked the Court to reduce their amount but Judge Reynolds denied his request.  

The New York resident filed a notice of appeal in Hinds County Court on February 9.  Graves argued the appeal was invalid since it was not filed within the proper statutory limit.  Judge Reynolds cited Section 29(a) of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure as he ruled the appeal was deficient because Kohen did not pay the cost nor appearance bonds : 

(a) Notice of Appeal. Any person adjudged guilty of a criminal offense by a justice or municipal court may appeal to county court or, ifthere is no county court, to circuit court, by filing simultaneously a written notice of appeal, and both a cost bond and an appearance bond (or cash deposit), as provided in Rules 29.3(a) and 29.4(a), with the clerk of the circuit court having jurisdiction within thirty (30) days of such judgment. This written notice of appeal and posting of the cost bond and the appearance bond (or cash deposit) perfects the appeal.

The Court ruled the County Court lacked jurisdiction over the case.  Judge Reynolds issued an arrest warrant.  The warrant will be placed in NCIC.  Kohan has ten days to surrender before Judge Reynolds will seek extradition.  



CM said...

Thank you, Judge. Reynolds

Anonymous said...

It's a misdemeanor - he won't be extradicted from NY.

Anonymous said...

The city refuses to do anything about the vagrants that destroyed the building. Will they charge the Mayor too?

Anonymous said...

I live in Madison. I don’t understand what is going on? I do realize that going forward it will be pay if you want to for Jackson city water, if you are fortunate enough to get it. On the plus side, I see that the brilliant state legislature may provide funds for you worthless bums who do not pay your obligated bills.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how the owner going to jail helps get this building renovated or torn down. Now that we know he will end up in jail. Who is going to fix or tear down the building? If he files bankruptcy, who will buy a building that has to be torn down or have major renovations?

Anonymous said...

At least Judge Reynolds is DOING something!

Unknown said...

Oyoyoyoyoyo, you want I should spend time in a Mississippi jail?

Anonymous said...

Extradited? That’s a joke. The city of Jackson doesn’t put its own criminals in jail, but they are going to extradite someone from New York over a misdemeanor? Judge Reynolds is just putting on a show for his buddy Chokwee.

Anonymous said...

Just because the offense isn't a big deal to 6:07 and 8:11 doesn't mean that the arrest warrant isn't.

That's the kind of thinking that leads people to be arrested for "a minor traffic violation." It's the warrant that matters, not so much the ticket.

7:08, What makes you think this obligation is dischargeable in bankruptcy?

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. How does a city have the power to charge an individual owner with any crime when he doesn’t own the hotel. His LLC owns the hotel.

Anonymous said...

the shame of all this is that this building was once a prime office space. I know several top qualify firms that had offices there and if for no other reason than its architecutal appeal, it was a prime space.

Even during Jackson's decline, the location was not an area to avoid - yes, there were the hourly rate motels up the frontage road, but who cares as long as the management company maintained its security that would escort folks to their cars after hours if need be.

Don't know what exactly happened to the company that bought it several years ago - but they evidently got out of the deal as age set in on the building; elevators not working, security costs increasing, maintenance issues mounting - and finding they had a non-recourse loan.

Bailed. Failure. NYC investors purchased from tax sale, didn't give a damn, looking for tax writeoffs. And now - nothing left except to implode the building.

Actually a loss for the city where losses are commonplace. No reason for this building to have fallen into such disrepair, but as things deteriorate, particularly on the west side of the interstate (check the police records for the 1 mile radius, and how many of the reports on on that side ---- that is, if you can access any reports from JPD).

Hate to see it go, but the NYC 'investors' have set its doom into stone. All the copper has been long stripped, everything of value is gone except for the excellant foundation and structure. Cost to salvage the unusual design is far more than Jackson values could support.

Tear it down Judge. Just like those properties between the fairgrounds and I55, this habit for unhumanity needs to go as well.

Anonymous said...

6:50 - nothing you have to say, or did say, is relevant. The demise of this piece of property has nothing to do with Jackson's water inepititude, or rightly, Jackson itself.

This property failed for several other reasons - probably many dealing with nothing to do with Jackson at all. Not defending Jackson's idiocy of governance, or lack thereof - but this is not related.

Thanks for playing. Come back to tomorrow's post to take a shot at the incompetence of Lumumba, and the entire operation of the Capitol City that wants to blame all of their problems on race.

The operation of this iconic building has nothing to do with that. The failure wasn't due to lack of Jackson's ability to supply water. In fact, it had nothing to do with the City of Jackson's governance at all.

But -- again, thanks for playing. Come back tomorrow to spin the wheel and see if you can win the preverbiable "comment of the day" award from whoever awards that high achievement on JJ

Anonymous said...

8:58 - I'm not a lawyer but LLC stands for 'Limited Liability Company', not 'No Liability at All Company'.

Anonymous said...

@8:58 I’m not a lawyer. My guess is that the LLC owns the building. The individual was ordered to be in court to speak on behalf of the LLC. The individual was a no-show in court, and had no valid reason to skip and gave no advance notice that they wouldn’t or couldn’t appear. So the individual will be arrested for ignoring the judicial orders.

Anonymous said...

It seems like there are so many things wrong with the city's case. The judge cited that there was no sworn proof that Kohan did not know about the case nor was served with notice, but I have always been under the impression that it was the state that had to prove that notice was properly served. Also, why is this being treated as a criminal matter instead of a civil case? Maybe someone can enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

He was properly served. TWICE. Not only were the citations mailed to him, but the Court Administrator ACTUALLY SPOKE with the Defendant, who asked for additional copies via an email address he gave the Court Administrator. So the Court Administrator mailed the citations, spoke with Kohan, and emailed the citations to him at his request. Kohan's claim of lack of proper notice is just wrong and, even if he were technically correct, he waived formal service by agreeing to accept it via email. And for those saying it was up to the Prosecutor to prove he was served, the prosecution DID PROVE ACTUAL NOTICE AND SERVICE. There was sworn witness testimony at trial regarding service. That is admissible evidence, and more than sufficient, especially since Kohan didn't bother to appear to rebut anything the prosecution put into evidence. Judge Reynolds is the only one Judge I've seen ACTING to hold accountable those that that trash the City. If every judge did that, things would look very different in Jackson.

Anonymous said...

The building is a hazard to public safety and a life threatening refuge and magnet for homeless vagrants. The whole scenario damages nearby business and property values.

Perhaps if the city demolishes the building, it can seek recompense at court.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Judge. Maybe we'll see at least one sleazy New York real estate investor forced to comply with the law.

Anonymous said...

A lot of non-lawyers in the comments confused about the law.

Anonymous said...

water "everywhere"

That's surprising.

Anonymous said...

The city can tear it down and put the bill on his taxes like they do up here in Canton.

Anonymous said...

This man makes a multimillion dollar investment in the city. In return the city fails to provide at the very least the basic services required to maintain a modest business environment. Businesses make the decision to start leaving the city and landlords start losing income and see their property values plummet. The city and judges solution to the problem is to lock up the property owners. If anyone is dumb enough to invest in a business venture in the city of Jackson and Hinds County you are an idiot. This mayor promised the most radical city in America and now you have it. Promises made promises kept! Good job Chokwe .

Anonymous said...

He will never set foot in MS

Anonymous said...

He’ll probably never go to jail here but it can still cause him a lot of problems. Since he’ll have a NCIC hold that means the next time he’s stopped or license is ran by leo he will have a hold warrant. He can be locked up in NYC and potentially be held for extradition period. Ive known scum like Kohen that buy cheap, dilapidated buildings many states away from residence and use them as asset leverage for business loans and all types of other financial scams. I’m sure to hear him tell it, he’s got a massive business complex in the MS capital that is thriving.

Anonymous said...

He should hire Jackie Chiles to sue Jackson for lost revenue on the building due to the lack of a stable supply of water and sewer service, making it impossible and impractical to perform renovations in a timely and cost-effective manner.

“I am shocked and chagrined, mortified and stupefied. This trial is outrageous! It is a waste of the taxpayers' time and money."

Wow said...

Yep what 12:30 says or I wonder if he is just depreciating these types of buildings to lower overall tax liability year to yeawr.

Anonymous said...

If only he had retained Carlos the Clown.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING: Mississippi's capital city makes decision to sue absentee slumlords. Sources say 644 properties are on the growing list of locations slated to be razed.

RELATED STORY: City publishes RFP from dozer operators and roll-off dumpster contractors. Minority set-aside preference will be observed. The mayor's office is expected to designate upwards of sixty Project Managers.

Former sportswriter said...

Good luck getting Kohan to do anything. As I have stated before he buys distressed malls and buildings and lets them rot. I don't know how Jackson would be able to accomplish what hundreds of other communities have also tried in relation to their Kohan-owned dead malls. He is not coming to Mississippi any more than he will spend money to fix up any of his other crap properties...

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