Almost exactly two years to the day since the Alaska Dispatch News first declared bankruptcy, the estate is largely settled.
One last detail was a claim by one of the creditors — Alice Rogoff, the owner of the bankrupt estate, herself.
A motion by Rogoff, the former owner of the now-bankrupt Alaska Dispatch News, was heard this week: Rogoff wanted to have some of her legal fees paid. That claim has been holding up disbursement of whatever funds remain in the estate to a long list of creditors.
In May of 2014, Rogoff bought the Anchorage Daily News from the McClatchy Company for $34 million. She had borrowed about $13 million from Northrim Bank to close the deal, sold the building the newspaper occupied in East Anchorage to GCI (and rented back some of the space for the printing operation), and she merged the operations of the online Alaska Dispatch News with the Anchorage Daily News, calling the entire operation the Alaska Dispatch News.
She ended up selling the Alaska Dispatch News in 2017 to the Binkley Companies as a crush of bills were drawing lawsuits. She — rather, the Alaska Dispatch News — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 12, 2017.
Two years later, she is still trying to get at the front of the line as a creditor. The bankruptcy judge on Wednesday said no.
That’s the simple history.
The full history is convoluted by shell corporations. The Alaska Dispatch News was owned by AK Publishing LLC, which was owned the Moon and the Stars LLC, which was owned by Rogoff.
Through these entities she controlled the ADN, and she named herself chief executive officer, with Tony Hopfinger a part owner and executive editor. There were a host of personal guarantees thrown around as she contracted with companies to begin moving the press operations out of the GCI building.
Then the bills came in and her entities moved money around to pay them, as she poured her personal wealth into the companies, before simply stopping to pay creditors at all. Creditors began to sue.
Through her lawyers, Rogoff this week was insisting that nearly $70,000 of her initially paid attorney fees go to the head of the line for collection from the company she had owned and operated. It’s likely a fraction of her actual legal fees.
Alaska Bankruptcy Court Judge Gary Spraker said this amount that Rogoff paid out in early attorney fees will be paid to her at the same ratio all other creditors get. She’s just another creditor of her failed company.
There’s likely very little to disperse from the Dispatch, possibly as little as 10 percent of what the company, now under the control of a trustee, owes dozens of creditors. Rogoff has likely spent tens of thousands of dollars to get her attorney fee claim paid first, only to fail once again. In fact, she may get less in the end than what she paid her attorneys to fight this remaining detail.
Rogoff has already settled separately with GCI, Arctic Partners, M&M Wiring Services, and Tony Hopfinger, her former business partner with whom there was a separate lawsuit before Rogoff’s company was decreed a lost cause by the courts and put into Chapter 7 liquidation.