Jennifer Sultan, who became a multimillionaire after co-founding the streaming media company Live Online, was arrested last month and faces a sentence of fifteen years to life on charges of illicit drug and weapons sales.
Her co-defendants include 31-year-old Nicholas Mina, an NYPD officer accused of stealing four 9mm firearms from the Ninth Precinct in the East Village, and Ivan Chavez, a 24-year-old heroin and gun dealer from Queens.
Armed officers broke down the door to Sultan’s 10-room penthouse on July 12 and hauled her away in handcuffs, an extraordinary fall from grace for the former dot-com millionaire who lived large on the mid-1990s tech boom before the Internet bubble burst, leading her to selling drugs to keep up her opulent lifestyle.
Sultan grew up on the Jersey Shore, one of three children of Jewish parents David and Brenda. She always dreamed of living in Manhattan, which is where she moved after graduating high school to attend New York University, where she majored in literature. She was known as a wild child at NYU who indulged in partying, marijuana use, and promiscuous behavior. After graduating in 1996, she rented a duplex on East 13th Street near Fifth Avenue. She wanted to sublet the downstairs part of the unit to take in extra money. The man she found to sublet, Adam Cohen, quickly became her boyfriend and then fiancée. The two ventured into business together, co-founding Live Online and living the high life, paying $400,000 for an 11-bedroom summer rental in the Hamptons and buying a 6,000-square-foot loft in the Flatiron District for $3.1 million. The loft, the only asset Sultan and Cohen have left,is currently on the market for $6.25 million, according to the Corcoran Group.
“It shocks the conscience that…undercovers had to put their lives in danger to stop another police officer from putting guns out into the streets,” said Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Christopher Prevost of Sultan’s co-defendant Mina during the hearings in Manhattan Supreme Court. Mina, a six-year veteran of the NYPD, admitted to stealing the guns from his precinct and giving them to Chavez to settle drug debts. Mina told cops he stole the guns to support his drug habit.
Sultan, 38, co-founded Live Online in 1994 as a vehicle for streaming live events for entertainment and media companies such as MTV and Arista Records. Live Online was sold for $70 million in 2000 to Digital Island, a company that had gone public the year before. In 2001 Digital Island was sold to Cable and Wireless, a British telecom company, for $3.40 a share, so stock that had once been worth $65.9 million was worth just $2.7 million. Sultan’s share of the deal was relatively small. She received 5 percent of those Digital Island shares, according to a filing with the SEC. Cohen received 37 percent.
Earlier this year Sultan placed an ad on Craigslist where she offered prescription pain pills for sale. An undercover officer responded to her ad and during a period of five months purchased pills from her, including 183 oxycodone tablets.When authorities raided Chavez’s apartment, they discovered 60,000 prescription painkillers Sultan had allegedly supplied him with. Meryl Lebowitz, Chavez’s 64-year-old neighbor, was also arrested and accused of running drugs for him, as was 22-year-old Marcos Echevarria.
Sultan and Cohen had recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Manhattan federal court because they could no longer afford the multimillion-dollar mortgage and $85,000 annual property tax bill on their East 17th Street luxury condo, which includes a roof deck and private elevator. While Cohen has not been charged with any crimes, both he and Sultan are facing a contempt charge in the bankruptcy case for not disclosing all their debts and bank transactions. They also had their lawyer withdraw from the case after he claimed the pair lied to him by saying they were married when they were still just engaged.
The couple’s neighbors had only negative things to say about them, calling Cohen “paranoid,” a “weasel,” and a “dirtbag,” according to the New York Post, which also reported that Sultan had been seen sleeping on the street outside her apartment building in the months before her arrest. One neighbor surmised that Cohen had kicked her out. “[They] keep real bad company,” one neighbor told the Post.“I don’t want to get involved with them or their dirty businesses.”
Sultan has little sympathy from those who know her, including her own father, David Sultan, who called her an “idiot,” telling the New York Post, “She had a great life, and she just [expletive deleted] it up…I don’t know what the hell she’s doing.”
Sultan remains confined to a cell on Rikers Island where she is unable to raise the $85,000 needed for her bail. Sultan’s lawyer has denied the allegations against her and said she plans to fight the charges.