By Julie Montanaro
January 29, 2015
A former police captain in the small town of Jasper, Florida is now suing the police chief and the city for false arrest.
James 'Mike" Cohen says he had the chief's permission to umpire while on duty and was arrested anyway.
Mike Cohen worked as a captain at the Jasper Police Department when he says he was forced to resign in November 2013 and arrested a month later on charges of official misconduct and grand theft.
Those charges were dropped and he is now suing the city for conspiracy, false arrest and malicious prosecution.
"I felt I was did wrong. I didn't do anything. I was doing what I was given permission to do, and then the next thing you know, I am facing three felony charges for doing what I was allowed to do. I mean, it's just not right," Cohen said.
"I still can't figure it out. Why did they do this to him? I just know it was wrong and that's why we filed this lawsuit," Cohen's attorney David Collins said.
The controversy started here on the ball fields at the Hamilton County Recreation Center.
Cohen says when he was hired at Jasper P-D, the chief gave him permission to continue his work with children, coaching and umpiring games.
That's why Cohen says he was stunned when he was forced out and charged with a crime - accused of getting paid by Hamilton County and the City of Jasper for the same time.
The suit seeks damages for damage to Cohen's reputation and loss of earnings as he struggles to find work in law enforcement.
"You know, they look at you like you just beat the system. You know, a lot of people, 'He got away.' Some people talk, 'He did it.' And you hear it," Cohen said of the impact to his reputation.
Both Jasper Police Chief Jeffrey McGuire and City Manager Charles Williams are named in the lawsuit.
Jasper city attorney Fred Koberlein says he cannot comment on pending litigation.
Updated by Julie Montanaro
May 14, 2014
A former police captain accused of grand theft and misconduct is no longer facing charges.
The assistant state attorney just dropped all charges against former Jasper Police Captain James "Mike" Cohen.
Cohen was arrested in December and accused of getting paid by Hamilton County and the City of Jasper at the same time
Court papers say he was seen umpiring softball games for the rec department while on duty.
Cohen's attorney says several witnesses testified he did it with the chief's knowledge and approval. He says Cohen was stunned by the arrest.
"You're a longtime law enforcement officer. You've been held up by numerous publications for your good work with the youth, going above and beyond. You've had a distinguished military career and when these charges came down, it's pretty devastating," said Dave Collins, Cohen's Attorney.
The assistant state attorney said in his notice that these charges "cannot be proven beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt."
By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 18, 2013, 2pm
Jasper, FL -- 54-year-old James Michael Cohen, a former Jasper Police Captain, was arrested on Monday. He’s charged with one count of official misconduct, one count of grand theft, and one count of cheating.
Cohen resigned from the police department on November 15th this year.
According to police records, Cohen between, on or about, Oct. 10 and Nov. 12, 2013, unlawfully and with a corrupt intent to obtain benefit to himself, received unearned payment of funds from the city of Jasper for hours of unperformed police duties by falsifying official time report documents.
He also faces a charge of grand theft III for obtaining that payment of at least $300 but less than $5,000.