Rogoff claims lion’s share of $33M in debts for former paper

The total claims against the former Alaska Dispatch News now total $33.5 million, but two-thirds of that is by former owner Alice Rogoff herself.

Rogoff is claiming debts owed to her of up to $23.6 million in the ongoing bankruptcy case after the March 19 deadline passed for all unsecured claims to be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Alaska Division

Twenty-nine companies or individuals submitted claims. Rogoff filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 12, 2017, just more than three years after purchasing the Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy Co. and renaming it the Alaska Dispatch News.

Rogoff originally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization before selling the company to the Binkley Co. for $1 million on Sept. 11, 2017. (The Binkley Co. has since acquired the Alaska Journal of Commerce in a deal that closed Feb. 23).

Several debts associated with the newspaper’s operations were paid by the Binkley Co. using the $1 million in funds to keep the paper going before the sale closed.

After that the bankruptcy was converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation to pursue assets that could be used to pay those still owed money. Nacole Jipping, a court-appointed public trustee, is now examining Rogoff’s finances to see what funds might be used to pay her bills and the court recently ordered Northrim Bank to turn over loan documents related to the purchase of the company in 2014.

Rogoff is now appealing that order to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rogoff has previously claimed $16.6 million in debts owed to her by the company she used to own for funds she injected into it to cover its operations, repayable at 6 percent interest. Now, she’s added up to another $7 million as a claim owed her personally.

Rogoff attorney James Lister said he filed a claim within the range of $900,000 at the lowest and $7 million at the highest on Rogoff’s behalf.

“It’s a ‘range claim.’ It estimates the amount for reimbursement where she has incurred lawsuits from the bankruptcy,” Lister told the Journal. “It represents money she has paid or will pay in lawsuits.”

Rogoff initially estimated she owed $2.7 million to individuals and vendors other than GCI and Northrim Bank.

GCI filed a claim for $3.4 million in back rent and $174,768 for utility bills. GCI filed in court to evict the Alaska Dispatch on Aug. 11, 2017 for overdue back rent and unpaid electrical bills. The next day, Aug. 12, Rogoff filed for bankruptcy.

Rogoff sold the Anchorage Daily News’ former headquarters at 1001 Northway Dr. to GCI for $15 million to help pay for the $34 million price to former owner McClatchy Co. Rogoff was supposed to vacate the building eventually but never did, leading to more debts and the eventual eviction notice from GCI.

Arctic Properties, another company that leased Rogoff space, put in a claim for $2.5 million. Rogoff had rented warehouse space at 5900 Arctic Blvd. to install a new press she purchased to replace use of the Northway Drive press.

M&M Wiring Services Inc., a company owned by Mark Miller who told the court he was stiffed in payment after wiring the new press at the Arctic Boulevard warehouse, put in a claim for $1.5 million.

J. Birkett Inc., a company from Lebanon, Tenn. that came to install the press at the Arctic warehouse, put in for $265,376.

Tony Hopfinger, Rogoff’s former partner in ownership of the Alaska Dispatch News, put in a claim for $95,000. He and his former wife, Amanda Coyne, founded the Dispatch in 2008 as an online news service that Rogoff bought into. Hopfinger retained a 5 percent interest in the company when Rogoff purchased the ADN.

Hopfinger alleges Rogoff lent her signature and wrote down a $1 million price to be paid over 10 years on a bar napkin to seal the sale of the Dispatch News to Rogoff.

The Hopfinger-Rogoff payment dispute lingers in court, with postponed trial dates. The latest is now scheduled for November in Alaska Superior Court.

Northrim Bank put in a claim for $731,100 in expenses related to the bankruptcy case. Birch Horton Bittner &Cherot attorney James Lister (representing Alaska Dispatch parent company AK Publishing and Rogoff), claims $54,718. Cabot Christianson, Rogoff’s bankruptcy attorney, billed for $83,385.

Yet another leasing company, 3150 C. LLC owned by Robert H. Hume Jr., filed a claim for breach of lease stating $715,490 is owed.

Individuals or companies owed money after providing services or goods to the now defunct Alaska Dispatch News should have been on the list.

“Anyone that has knowledge of a bankruptcy and asserts a claim against the debtor is required to file a proof of claim in order to share in any ultimate distribution,” said Christine Tobin-Presser, an attorney with Bush Kornfeld LLC of Seattle who represents the public trustee Nacole Jipping.

The likelihood of paying these debts hasn’t been seen as much of a possibility, according to Rogoff’s attorney Cabot Christianson. He argued the estate is at “0 point 0” during the liquidation phase last fall.

04/12/2018 - 1:02pm