THE ROGUE PUBLISHER’S BANKRUPTCY CONTINUES
Facing creditors who are accusing her of fraud, the former owner of the Alaska Dispatch News appears to be getting deeper into legal peril. Bankruptcy fraud is serious stuff.
Yet Alice Rogoff — yes, that Alice Rogoff — claims she is owed $16 million plus change by the Dispatch, the now bankrupt carcass of the former newspaper of Alaska’s largest city.
That newspaper was reborn in September as the Anchorage Daily News and is now owned by the Binkley Company, its rescuer.
Creditors have until Monday night to file all of their claims against the woman who waltzed into the newspaper business in Alaska in the early 2000s, and crashed a newspaper along with her airplane.
Rogoff, who purchased the paper when it was the Anchorage Daily News, and then changed its name to the Dispatch, filed her original Chapter 11 claim in Alaska bankruptcy court last summer. It didn’t take long for the court to realize the company had little value.
The East Coast divorcee and jetsetter claims to be her own largest creditor, conveniently. But there are many others to whom she owes money, examples of which include everything from the tax man, to a small shoe company, to a medium-sized landlord:
- IRS $24,462, presumably for back taxes
- Boot Country $119, presumably for work boots for workers
- Arctic Partners: $2.4 million, presumably for rent not paid these many months.
A reasonable person might think she could pay for the boots, at least. Instead, she has been flying off to London, Boston, and even Barrow.
Other creditors will likely file before the Monday midnight deadline.
And then we come to M&M Wiring: a whopping $1.529 million.
M&M is engaged in a take-no-prisoners approach to the rogue publisher from the East, and is claiming that Rogoff and her representatives were operating shell companies — businesses that they kept changing the names of and were using to stay one step ahead of creditors. Their claim narrative makes her operation sound vaguely criminal.
M&M alleges that Rogoff, her agents and legal representatives caused the electrical company to do more than a million dollars worth of work, and incur other costs, including attorneys fees.
According to M&M’s claim, Rogoff (or the Dispatch as the debtor, if you will) was losing $125,000 a week because of bad management and because Rogoff or her representatives raided the assets of the Alaska Dispatch News LLC. Yet they kept on ordering more work to be done by M&M.
Rogoff’s company is now in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Liquidation, in other words, because there is no hope of it returning as a viable business entity.
“Rogoff and the Debtor contracted with M&M knowing that they did not have the money to pay for the improvements that Rogoff caused to be made to the Arctic Partner’s building located at 5900 Arctic Blvd,” the claim reads.
In layman’s terms, she knowingly stiffed M&M.
M&M claims that Rogoff, the Dispatch (Debtor), AK Publishing, the Moon and the Stars LLC were “essentially interchangeable, with respect to incurring and the payment of their respective obligations by the Debtor to its creditors detriment.”
This falls under the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. M&M alleges Rogoff/Dispatch has engaged in unfair and deceptive actions.
THEN COMES THE ‘F’ WORD: FRAUD
M&M Wiring is accusing Rogoff/Dispatch of committing fraud and/or unfair business practices when she retained the electrical contractor to perform improvements to the Arctic Partners’ building, where Rogoff intended to move the newspaper printing presses.
Further, she and the Dispatch continued to promise to pay M&M in order to keep them working on the Arctic Partners’ building, even while she knew her newspaper was losing nearly half a million dollars a month and could not pay what it owed to M&M.
According to M&M Wiring, she and her attorneys knew they were engaged in an unfair or deceptive act or practice, had the “authority to control the activities,” and were recklessly indifferent or knew it was highly probable that the corporate entity or one of its agents, employees or attorneys were committing an unfair or deceptive act or practice and “intentionally avoided the truth.”
Here’s the kicker: M&M says Rogoff and her agents, and this would appear to include members of her legal team, “are personally liable for the injured party’s damages.”
“Rogoff knew that her actions or that of the agents, employees or attorneys and had authority to stop it, but failed to take reasonable action to do so,” according to the claim.
THE SHELL GAMES CONTINUE
Rogoff still has other court cases pending, specifically with GCI, which goes to court later this year, and her former partner at Alaska Dispatch Publishing LLC, Tony Hopfinger, who has sued her for $1 million or so he says she owes him. She paid him his first payment of $100,000 for a contract that she wrote on a bar napkin.
But while Hopfinger cools his heels and waits for Rogoff to clear her other debts through the court, Rogoff has quietly changed the name of that company. A February filing with the Alaska Department of Commerce shows the new name of the company as M.O.N. LLC.
And she has quietly taken a personal asset that she specifically told the courts had no value — ArticNow.com — and changed its name to ArticToday.com, and is up and running again as a for-profit electronic newspaper.