By CRAIG MEDRED
Less than a year after former Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff wrote a rather strange column describing her newspaper as being in “investment mode” and about 8 months before she took the company into bankruptcy, court documents now reveal the business was almost $1 million underwater and sinking fast.
It was news the newspaper was trying hard to keep out of the news. It would be a long time before Alaskans learned the state’s largest news organization was on the brink of going under, and shortly thereafter it would be in bankruptcy and sold to an old, Alaska family from the Interior city of Fairbanks.
When it was reported here in June that Catalyst Paper, a Canadian newsprint and ink supplier, had gone to court to try to get the Dispatch to pay its bills, the Rogoff-led Dispatch News dismissed the suit as the common sort of litigation that goes on between businesses.
The staff of the state’s largest news organization reported almost nothing about the start of the biggest business collapse in the state’s largest city until GCI, the state’s largest telecom and cable company, took Rogoff into state court to demand about $1.4 million in back rent and unpaid electric bills.
Thus began the public unraveling of a story that had for months been developing under the noses of the reporters and editors working for the state’s largest news organization.
Since then, a lot of the details of the collapse of the shining star of what has come to be called Rogoff Inc. have emerged in U.S Bankruptcy Court hearings that have dragged on since September 2017, but new tidbits are coming out in a lawsuit filed against Rogoff by M&M Wiring Service Inc.
M&M was hired to wire a new printing plant the Dispatch News planned in an industrial section of the city’s Midtown. It claims in its court filings that it was defrauded by Rogoff and her associates.
BEGINNING OF THE END
Informed of cash-flow problems and the need to come up with more than $1.3 million to cover outstanding bills by the end of January 2017, M&M court filings say, Rogoff told her staff to simply stop paying some bills, including those of M&M.
“It was after this point in time, now that Alaska Dispatch was unable to pay M&M, that Rogoff sent M&M’s invoices to Adam Cook (an attorney at the firm Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot) to review as they were ‘suddenly’ a ‘way-inflated cost,’” the complaint says. “Rogoff was asked what should be paid, a Precision Maintenance & Fabricating invoice, a M&M invoice or the Premera monthly premium.”