Gregory Cohen, the lead organizer for the World YoYo Contest since 2000, was arrested last week and immediately released on bond for failure to pay sales tax to the state of Florida. Authorities say that he failed to file six consecutive tax returns, which are due monthly in the state of Florida. According to our sources, all six of the tax returns in question were from 2010 and Cohen had been working with authorities for some time to remedy the situation when the warrant was issued. While some news sources are reporting specific dollar amounts owed, these dollar amounts are from a press release issued by the local prosecutors office and reflect the total amount if the maximum penalties are assigned, and are not indicative of the actual amount of back taxes owed. YoYoNews has been unable to confirm the actual amount of back taxes owed from 2010, but has confirmed that Cohen is one of at least a dozen local Leon County businesses who have suddenly been pulled off their back tax payment plans and arrested.
We immediately contacted Cohen for comment, and while he was unable to comment on the specific nature of the charges or his tax situation, YoYoNews was assured that “This is completely separate from the World YoYo Contest business and bookkeeping, and will not affect the 2013 World YoYo Contest or the transfer of the event to the IYYF.” Normal procedure for serious tax offenses is for business assets to be immediately seized and auctioned and the State of Florida has shown no interest in doing this. In light of this, YoYoNews has drawn the conclusion that while this arrest certainly indicates that Cohen is a lousy bookkeeper, it’s a simple matter of Cohen working with the State of Florida to rectify the situation and moving on. Hopefully with a better accounting system.
The IYYF was unavailable for a comment.
Gregory Cohen has been an influential, and sometimes controversial, member of the yoyo industry since the early 90s. His store, Infinite Illusions, was widely recognized as the first online yoyo retailer and for many years was easily the largest and most comprehensive. Cohen was an early pioneer of “boutique” yoyo and accessory manufacturing and retail; at a time when ordering spare wooden axles for a yoyo usually meant writing to the manufacturer and waiting weeks for your yoyo to be serviceable again, Cohen became a one-stop shop for string, axles, parts, and accessories. His mailorder business began slowing with stiff competition from companies like the now-defunct YoYoNation, and since YoYoExpert took the position of the world’s largest online yoyo retailer, Infinite Illusions has closed down almost completely.
Cohen took over the World YoYo Contest in 2000 from Dale Oliver, who had been running it in conjunction with IJA juggling festivals. Cohen expanded the event to a stand-alone event held in Orlando, Florida with almost triple the attendance over the past decade; registered attendees have gone from 315 in 2000 to almost 900 in 2012. Cohen has come under fire in recent years for his inability to grow the contest beyond its current size, and recently agreed to turn over the World YoYo Contest to the IYYF, an independent managing body that would oversee the contest being outside of the United States for the first time since 1932.
The 2013 World YoYo Contest will be his last event as organizer.