Former W/J manager says Musick threatened his life
Former W/J Ranch manager Sha Cohen says his former boss made thinly veiled threats against his life last week, forcing him to “take measures to protect” himself and file a complaint with the sheriff’s office.
Cohen, who has spent about two years working for John Musick, told the Times earlier this week that his boss has not paid him in eight months. That led the 25-year-old ranch manager to stand up during the public comment period of last Wednesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting and apologize for his behavior and attitude toward local officials during his stint at the ranch.
Cohen says that following the meeting he received a call from Musick that turned nasty.
Contacted yesterday, Musick broke into a long stretch of laughter when he heard Cohen’s allegations. But when asked if he denied the allegations about either the back pay or the threatening phone call, Musick said he had no comment.
“I’ve spent the last week at a family reunion and wedding. Let me get back to Looneyville and see what’s going on, and maybe I’ll have something to say then,” Musick said.
By Cohen’s account, Musick called him a “problem” and said, “You don’t know who you are dealing with. You don’t have any idea what kind of people own the ranch.”
To which Cohen purportedly replied, “Why don’t you tell me, John? Who really owns the ranch?”
“These are people who bury their problems,” Musick said, according to Cohen’s account.
Cohen says he responded to Musick’s threat by challenging its veracity. “I said to him, `If there really are big, powerful people behind the ranch, why are they making you live like a pauper? You don’t have a nickel to your name.'”
Cohen contends Musick warned him to watch his back and keep his doors locked. “He said to me, `You better keep your house locked down tight,'” Cohen said.
Cohen says he subsequently filed a report of the incident with sheriff’s deputy Brian Benton. The police records office refused to confirm whether the report had been filed. Deputy Joe DiSalvo said that if Cohen did file a report, it was under investigation and facts could not be disclosed to the public.
In spite of Musick’s alleged threats, Cohen continues to reside at the W/J. He said he has picked up odd jobs around the upper valley which provide him with a small income, but, Cohen maintains, he is in “serious” financial trouble because of Musick’s refusal to pay.
Cohen says he continued to work without pay as Musick’s right hand man because his job gave him a place to live. His duties over the last few years have included tending horses and cattle, making repairs and maintaining the ranch, running errands, and representing Musick at public and private meetings concerning development proposals for the ranch and another Musick-owned property in California.
“Everything that John asked me to do, I did without question and without delay,” he said.
Cohen contends Musick promised to catch up on back pay four separate times over the eight months, but failed to deliver each time.
The final straw came last week, said Cohen, when an application from Nextel Communications to place cellular telephone equipment in a barn at the W/J came before the county commissioners. Musick, through a new representative, asked for a continuance. Cohen urged the commissioners to deny the application, noting Musick was renting part of the barn as a residence even though it had never gone through even the most routine inspections.
Allowing Musick to make money illegally even while he was falling into arrears with his own employees was too much for him, said Cohen. The commissioners agreed that the illegal unit needed to be dealt with, and denied the Nextel application instead of postponing it.
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