By CRAIG MEDRED
After eight days of sometimes rambling and regularly wandering testimony over the course of two weeks, the $1 million lawsuit former Alaska Dispatch News editor Tony Hopfinger filed against old boss Alice Rogoff is set to be handed to an Anchorage jury today.
Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi set closing arguments in the so-called “napkin case” for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The jury should get the case by afternoon.
[Editor’s note: The jury has, on Tuesday, been given the case for judgment.]
What jurors decide could well hinge on what they think of the “in my mind” defense of the 67-year-old Rogoff, a one-time East Coast socialite who invested in Hopfinger’s Alaska Dispatch on a journey to achieve her dream of ownership of the Anchorage Daily News.
Funded by millions of dollars from estranged, billionaire husband David Rubenstein, she bought the News in May 2014 only to have it in deep financial trouble by early 2017 and in bankruptcy by August of that year.
Along the way she blew up what she summarized as a professional marriage to Hopfinger and now ex-wife Amanda Coyne, the co-founder of the Dispatch; helped get friend Bill Walker elected governor of Alaska; finally divorced Rubenstein; and left a trail of chaos in her wake.
She was sued for millions by the company that owned the building housing her old press, the company that owned the building she wanted to make into a new press plant, and the contractor preparing that building.
The bankruptcy dragged out for months and threatened to leave debtors, some of them small Alaska businesses, out $2 million. A laywer for a bankruptcy trustee threatened Rogoff with fraud charges and the loss of her now prize news site – Arctic Now – before Rubenstein stepped in to help settle issues with a promise to fund $1.5 million in repayment to Rogoff debtors.
Though she claimed $23 million in losses from loans to the Dispatch News limited liability company – one of her many Alaska LLCs – during the bankruptcy hearing, she agreed to drop those claims.