Samuel "Mouli" Cohen
|Samuel "Mouli" Cohen|
April 8, 1958 |
|Criminal charge||Wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion|
|Criminal penalty||22 years imprisonment|
|Criminal status||Incarcerated at FCI Terminal Island; Federal Bureau of Prisons Register #57613-112;
projected release date: 16 November 2029
|Conviction(s)||9 November 2011|
Samuel "Mouli" Cohen (born April 8, 1958) is an entrepreneur, executive, venture capitalist, and convicted felon, who has held the positions of President, Chairman, and CEO of several public and private video game companies which, according to Cohen, have "generated over $3B in shareholder value". The companies Cohen has been involved in since the 1980s include: Playnet Technologies, Voltage Capital, LAMIA, Aristo International and Ecast. In April 2012, Cohen was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for a conviction on 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering and three counts of tax evasion.
In the mid-1990s Cohen put together a team of veteran video game producers, engineers, marketing specialists, and executives for Playnet, a public company listed on NASDAQ. Cohen was President, CEO, and Chairman of the company. Employees included Nolan Bushnell, the inventor of Pong and founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese; Joe Ybarra, who worked at Apple before joining Electronic Arts in their startup phase as a producer, and was president of Infocom and Sr. VP of Cheyene Mountain Entertainment; and Glenn Sblendorio, former CFO of Sony Entertainment.
The company developed two main products: A touchscreen controlled "bar top", coin operated video game machine and a digital jukebox, capable of storing an extremely large selection of songs and able to download new releases. Playnet, later Aristo International, had offices in San Francisco, New York, and Virginia. In October 1997 Playnet announced an agreement with Holiday Inn, a major international hotel chain, to launch a pilot program to install the video game machine in a minimum of six Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza locations across the US. Playnet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1998.
Cohen was the founder of Voltage Capital, a company that Cohen claimed was involved in research and investments in solar energy and other forms of green technology.
Cohen was born in Israel to Russian immigrants. He migrated to the USA in 1987. He is married to Stacy Jean Stripling, also known as Stacy Cohen, who is the author of the book "Kosher Billionaire's Secret Recipe" published in 2007.  The book showcases the couples' lavish lifestyle acquired from ill-gotten wealth.
In 2009, Mouli Cohen defrauded investors of more than $28 million and two lawsuits were filed. Cohen told investors that his company, Ecast, Inc., was about to be acquired by Microsoft. Based on those false representations, victims purchased some of Cohen’s founders’ shares in Ecast. A federal grand jury in 2010 indicted Cohen on 32 felony counts of fraud and money laundering, and he was arrested in August 2010. In November 2011, Cohen was found guilty of 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, and three counts of tax evasion. He was acquitted of six additional charges. After the verdict, Cohen was remanded into custody by judge Charles Breyer.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said evidence at the trial showed that Cohen collected more than $30 million from defrauding over 55 investors, including actor Danny Glover and the Vanguard Public Foundation (a San Francisco-based nonprofit supported by Glover and Harry Belafonte that funded civil rights efforts). Cohen was cited as largely responsible for the eventual dissolution of Vanguard in 2011.
Cohen didn't testify at trial and his lawyer said he expected Cohen would appeal the conviction.
At the sentencing hearing, Cohen's lawyer asked for a reduced sentence as recognition of Cohen having given $2 million to charity but the judge pointed out that, "It's other people's money. The fact of the matter is that you gave their money to others and pretended it was yours."
The prosecution described Cohen as a "congenital liar and serial fraudster" and recommended to the court that Cohen be sentenced to between 30 years to life and be denied bail while awaiting sentencing. On April 30, 2012, Cohen was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
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