LYING UNDER OATH ABOUT WHAT SHE KNEW?
A company that rewired a building for wealthy, jet-setting Alice Rogoff wants payment for the work and says the East Coast heiress and former newspaper publisher is lying to the court.
After months of court filings and responses between lawyers for the former owner of the Alaska Dispatch News and those of M&M Wiring, the electrical contractor says Rogoff not only committed fraud, but has now committed perjury.
She’s sworn she had no knowledge of events, contracts, and mounting bills, when her own written documents say otherwise, the stiffed contractor asserts in a legal filing of last week.
The Alaska Dispatch News is in liquidation in bankruptcy court. With few to no assets left, creditors are going after Rogoff’s personal assets, including her divorce settlement. She’s doing everything she can to stop them from seeing what she’s actually worth.
Rogoff clearly doesn’t want to pay the Dispatch’s bills; that’s why she declared bankruptcy in the first place after GCI evicted her company from its location on Northway Drive last August 11.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy allowed the newspaper to be sold to the Binkley Company for $1 million (now it’s called Anchorage Daily News) and what remained of the Dispatch was converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy — selling it off for parts. Dozens of creditors in Alaska have been hung out to dry by Rogoff’s chain of decisions to run up the bills and then throw the keys on the counter and leave.
M&M Wiring, which is a working-class company with a modest amount of business, went a different route than some other creditors: It filed a lien on a building on Arctic Blvd., which Rogoff had leased and was improving for the purpose of installing printing presses in the space. Presses she had purchased from a company in Indiana.
She had already overextended her lease at the building she sold to GCI when she purchased the newspaper from McClatchy, and was in arrears on rent when the eviction notice finally came.
Rogoff needed to move her operations but the Arctic Blvd. building was inadequate in almost every way, and costs mounted, even though the Municipality had looked the other way on permits, allowing her to use and improve the space without the usual oversight.
ROGOFF HAS BEEN DODGING THE QUESTIONS
The cases in question are M&M Wiring vs Arctic Partners and Alaska Dispatch News and Arctic Partners vs. Alice Rogoff, the individual. They are intertwined.
M&M says that it’s owed $1.5 million. M&M has been trying to find out, through court filings, what Rogoff knew about her financial condition, when she knew it, what bills she may have paid in advance of filing for bankruptcy (which could be bankruptcy fraud), and how much personal involvement she had with the work done at the Arctic Blvd. building.
Recent filings by M&M ask Rogoff to verify whether or not the work on 22 invoices had actually been done. M&M argues that the work was done and the invoices are legitimate.
But for each request for a response on an invoice, Rogoff and her attorneys provide a “boilerplate” objection that says Rogoff “in her individual capacity is not in a position to respond,” and that the request should be made to the defunct Alaska Dispatch News.
It’s the equivalent of giving M&M the proverbial finger, since there is no Alaska Dispatch News, and since the person who ran the Dispatch is Rogoff, the only person able to speak for the now-dead company.
M&M says Rogoff is bobbing and weaving. The company has asked for either adequate responses or a meeting. But Rogoff refused, according to a court filing of May 7.
“Implicit in Rogoff’s boilerplate response is that Rogoff is imbued with multiple ‘capacities’ that can be put on like a hat to avoid responding to discovery requests. Rogoff has cited no legal authority for the proposition that a person is exempt from providing discovery related to a company which they own,” according to the electrical company’s recent explanation to the court.
The argument goes into the matter of whether a corporation is a person. While a corporation is considered to be a person, in reality corporations are operated by “natural people” and such people are required to answer for their activities on behalf of a corporation in such legal discovery proceedings, M&M claims.
And it doesn’t help Rogoff’s case that her attorneys answered the questions with the boilerplate language, and then signed for the answers, while Rogoff did not add her signature.
Further, the wiring company is not happy with Rogoff’s continuing use of hedging language such as “presume” and “appear” in her answers to the questions posed about the invoices. These are not answers at all, the wiring company says. M&M has told the court Rogoff is evading, stalling, and changing her answers to suit her quest to avoid paying the bill.
“For Rogoff to allege in this case that she does not know the amount due to M&M is perjury,” the company has written.
Their proof is in Rogoff’s own writings to readers on Sept. 12, 2017, when she identified the challenges that had developed at the building where she intended to house a new printing press she had purchased:
“But what turned out to be our fatal challenge was the need to build a new printing plant at an affordable price … And then the retrofitting of the building for the printing presses ran into one setback after another, one cost overrun too many and the accompanying, long list of permitting challenges. A series of misjudgments on my part caused the construction to grind to a halt in the spring.”
According to M&M, this sounds like a person who has significant knowledge and management responsibilities for the construction project, including design, cost estimates, budget and schedule.
“For Rogoff to now allege a lack of knowledge in response to M&M’s discovery is not credible.”
The company wrote: Rogoff’s responses were really “no responses at all.” And it wants all of her personal financial information to be available for questioning at her next deposition, which is scheduled for June 6 in Anchorage.
Rogoff has delayed these depositions before, dragging the proceedings out for the past five months, while her lawyers tried to limit the scope of what her creditors can ask her about — such as her personal finance, the value of her assets, what assets she may own and what assets she has sold, anything related to her divorce and any agreements resulting from her divorce.
The judge has denied that narrow scope. It’s on for June 6, if she doesn’t delay again or settle.
Arctic Partners wants to make sure there are no more delays because it’s costing that company money. It has asked the court to force her to the table so it doesn’t have to keep spending funds on lawyers who have been trying to find out when Rogoff will make herself available.
Arctic Partners has asked for a court order to compel her attendance.
Rogoff has also been the subject of a fraud claim brought by M&M. That occurred in March.
In addition, the separate case of bankruptcy is proceeding and the bankruptcy trustee appears to be piercing the veil between Rogoff’s defunct corporation and her personal assets — assets that, if sold, could help make dozens of creditors whole. That might include planes, property, art, and her unknown divorce settlement with David Rubenstein.
In the meantime, the bankruptcy case itself may be nearing resolution on June 4. The bankruptcy trustee has found grounds for actual wrongdoing and Rogoff’s attorneys have gotten their client to agree to mediation after the trustee released a draft complaint outlining the various weaknesses in her position.
The next court action on the M&M/Arctic Partners case is June 6, when the two companies will be able to ask Rogoff detailed questions about her personal finances — if she shows up.
Rogoff has been traveling the globe and attending conferences on the Arctic. She has launched a new publication, ArcticToday.com, which is incorporated in Delaware and has, it appears, two employees.