By Rebecca Bulnes
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Media outlets from TMZ to Perez Hilton are reporting Jay-Z is being sued for stiffing a Miami-based charter jet company, Air Platinum Holding, to the tune of $250,000 for not paying his flight bills. Not so fast. The owner of the company, Mickael Cohen, is what you might call a familiar character to New Times.
In November 2009, we wrote about the flashy Frenchman's apparent distaste for paying bills and employees' wages. The angry debtors we spoke with included Cohen's former business partners, his director of marketing, and even the dealership that sold him a $500,000 Lamborghini — and got rubber checks in return.
Cohen then threatened to sue New Times and bizarrely claimed to have won a $2 million judgment against the Miami Herald in French court.
Contacted by Crossfade, Desiree Perez, co-owner with Jay-Z of Manhattan's 40/40 nightclub, called Cohen "absolutely nuts and a liar."
And though we're still awaiting a response from Jay-Z's reps, the former Air Platinum pilot who initially connected the rapper to Cohen's charter company says the claim is completely bogus.
"Of course he paid — I saw the wire go through with my own eyes," pilot Richard Stoler says. Jay-Z stopped flying with Cohen only after the rapper "realized that the business was sketchy," the pilot says. "He didn't want to pay in advance. He was fine with paying as he flew."
Former marketing director Ben Barbarot agrees: "Everything's been paid. Jay-Z stopped flying with Mickael because he was crazy and wanted to change the rate every day."
Reached by New Times, Cohen hung up and later emailed us to say his cell phone battery had died. Then he wrote (all sic), "And why you want talk with me now, after all the shits you said about me and my company with my pathetic english?" Cohen waved off the claims of his former pilot and marketing director: "You trust Richard and Benjamin good for you, Richard and Benjamin had no proof... We ask in the court only the money due, no damages, no interests nothing."
Meanwhile, though Air Platinum went bellyup, Cohen apparently continues to rent flights through a new website. We're guessing he doesn't have many A-list rappers in his client Rolodex these days.