Warrant issued for mall owner's arrest

WORTHINGTON – Northland Mall owner Mike Kohan is behind on his taxes in the city of Worthington, portions of his mall have been declared hazardous by the city and he has not responded to any communications from the city. He owns malls in several states, many of which have been neglected, abandoned or foreclosed on. Now, there is a warrant out for his arrest.

But even that is problematic. The warrant is only issued locally, because law enforcement has virtually no information on the man from New York. There is no description of Kohan. They do, however, know one thing – his real name is not Mike Kohan. It’s Mehran Kohansiek. That is the principal name listed on mall realty management companies in at least six states.

Worthington Director of Community / Economic Development Brad Chapulis said Friday he was aware, there was a warrant put for Kohan’s arrest, but did not know Kohan was an alias.

The city has sent two official letters to Kohan – one registered, and one through a state agency – informing him of the problems at the mall.

“He has not responded at all,” Chapulis said.

The Kmart portion of the building is considered hazardous, something the city learned after a search warrant related to drug charges was issued for the property. Chapulis said their next step is to file a declaration with the courts. Kohan will be given an allotted number of days to make repairs, and when that time expires, the courts will then give the city the right to take action themselves.The logical thing to do is to take the portion of the building down, but Chapulis said there are variables that come with that decision.

“You can’t just go in there with a bulldozer,” he explained.

And that’s not all.

“The rest of the mall is deteriorating,” Chapulis stated. “That is not being addressed. There are things we are looking at to get it to the process of declaring it hazardous as well, but we are not to that point yet. We lack some of the fundamental authority, but we’re trying to figure it out. Unfortunately there is no clear cut law that says a leaky roof is a hazard.”

There is nothing the city could do about controlling who purchased the mall, because the sale was a private transaction between two parties. There are no licensing requirements in Worthington about purchasing a building.

“That would have been the only opportunity to identify a red flag,” Chapulis said. “We only know the owner has been negligent of day to day activities.”

Through the legal process, there are only two ways to recoup money the public spends to repair or take down the building.

“Either we levy the cost against the property taxes, which is a futile effort, or we can decide to go after him personally,” Chapulis said.

But that is not the reason a warrant for Kohan has been issued.

According to court documents filed in Nobles County District Court, Kohan is the subject of a civil suit in which he has not paid a former employee back pay months after laying him off. It isn’t much of a surprise to learn the person he laid off at Northland Mall was the maintenance man. The suit actually goes back to July of 2012, when Jeff Mariner requested the courts rule in his favor for slightly less than $6,000. A judge ruled in December 2012 that Mariner was owed $1,623. In July 2013, the courts ordered that Kohan personally appear in Nobles County because he had not paid the judgment. In August, because he failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued locally for Kohan’s arrest.

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