1/15/21 Courthouse

Local police chiefs have met to discuss security around the Tippecanoe County Courthouse on Inauguration Day.

Authorities have filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit against the owners of local businesses Deal Zone, Treasure on Pallets and CD Land, asking that their assets be frozen and seized because of allegations of racketeering and money laundering.

The court documents filed Monday say search warrants served on March 5 yielded nearly $200,000 in cash alone. The plaintiffs — the state of Indiana, the Tippecanoe County prosecutor's office and the West Lafayette and Lafayette police departments — cite a list of other items that were among inventory of the businesses and belonging to Fran Cohen and Menashi Cohen, a divorced couple who owned the businesses. Each Cohen has a Lafayette address.

"The defendants' conduct has continued as a pattern of racketeering activity, and not as isolated instances," the lawsuit says: theft, money laundering, forgery and perjury.

Civil forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize and keep cash and other items based on the property's suspected connection to possible criminal activity. Neither Cohen has yet been charged with a crime, according to online records.

"Offenses involving theft were committed by knowingly or intentionally purchasing stolen property; aiding, inducing, or causing others to commit theft; and/or ... failing to report money owed to the state of Indiana" in taxes, the lawsuit says.

The court documents, which do not detail the allegations, asks a judge to give the assets to the state, to seize other assets, to dissolve the businesses and to order the Cohens to tell authorities of all of their businesses and assets.

In addition to Deal Zone, CD Land and Treasure on Pallets on Old U.S. 231, an LLC named South Grant is listed.

The lawsuit outlined $40,000 seized from a South Grant LLC bank account, but other details about the business are unclear.

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