David Cohn
David Cohn

Embattled Hermosa Beach Treasurer David Cohn said he will not step down in the wake of allegations he assaulted a 26-year-old unlicensed masseuse he met on Craigslist.

"I will continue to perform my duties as Treasurer for a City that I love and am proud to serve," Cohn said in a statement released through his attorney, John Sweeney.

Cohn denied the assault allegations made against him by a young woman he claimed stole his iPad after she gave him a massage.

"I assure the residents of Hermosa Beach that I have done nothing wrong, that I am the victim of this crime, and that the statement of the person arrested and charged with this crime, as printed in our local newspaper, is false and defamatory," Cohn said. "The allegations only arose after she was arrested in a sting operation and charged with a felony."

Cohn, 72, has remained mostly silent since the iPad theft was first reported, saying only that he will not resign. He has not responded to multiple requests by the Daily Breeze seeking comment.

The statement comes about a month after the city's elected treasurer told Hermosa Beach police that his iPad had been stolen from his home by a Maywood couple, and that they were using the device to extort money from him.

Yuritsi Garcia and Gustavo Ceron, 29, were arrested on Nov. 13 at a Chase bank near their rented home by Hermosa Beach police as they were allegedly trying to collect money from Cohn in exchange for his iPad.


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Garcia and Ceron have pleaded not guilty to felony extortion charges. They appeared in Torrance Superior Court on Monday, when a preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 17. Garcia has been released on bail. Ceron remains jailed.

In an interview with the Daily Breeze after her release, Garcia said she had been given the iPad by Cohn after he refused to pay her in full for a topless massage she gave him at his Sixth Street home.

Garcia said she cut the massage short after Cohn began touching her and asked for sex. Cohn then grabbed her after she refused, Garcia said.

The extortion allegations are being investigated by Hermosa Beach police and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Garcia's assault allegations are being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Garcia said she filed a police report detailing the incident last week.

Sweeney, Cohn's attorney, said he had no comment when asked if Cohn had been contacted by the Sheriff's Department.

In his statement, Cohn said the contents of the iPad were deleted 10 minutes after the theft.

"I can unequivocally state that no Hermosa Beach city business, documents, or confidential information was accessed by these individuals," said Cohn, who was elected as the city's treasurer in November 2011.

Sweeney did not disclose what was on the iPad that wasn't deleted that could have been used in an extortion attempt.

"The statement speaks for itself," Sweeney said. "And that's all we are going to say at this point."

Meanwhile, Hermosa Beach Councilmen Michael DiVirgilio and Kit Bobko have sought to suspend Cohn until the investigations surrounding him are complete. The move was blocked from moving forward last week, but the council is expected to further discuss Cohn's possible suspension on Dec. 11, the same day he is expected to deliver the city's fourth quarter investment report.

In his statement, Cohn commended the Hermosa Beach Police Department for investigating the extortion allegations.

"And I know these individuals will be brought to justice," he said.

douglas.morino@dailybreeze.com

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