News

Horrible gift

alice 3

Alice Rogoff in her glory, lecturing on journalism with CNN’s Samanatha Berry and Newseum CEO Peter Prichard/Newseum photo

Alaska journo-lebrity Alice Rogoff celebrates her birthday Friday, and the good news is the estranged wife of billionaire David Rubenstein will be fully vested in Social Security at age 66.

The bad news is that federal Bankruptcy Court trustee Nacole Jipping on Tuesday dropped a turd on the now owner of Arctic Now and the former owner of the Alaska Dispatch News/ADN.com. Jipping represents the creditors left holding the bag to the tune about $2 million when Rogoff, a notably bad flier, piloted the ADN into the ground.

Tipping filed a request that “the Court enter an order that authorizes William Artus, her
attorney, or Christine Tobin-Presser, her proposed special counsel, to conduct” what is called a Rule 2004 investigation, a forensic probe into the finances of the ADN that could reach beyond how the company did business into the finances of Rogoff herself.

The motion appears aimed at determing whether Rogoff has hidden assets her debtors might be able to access to collect the money she owes them.

One of the requests in the motion is for “copies of all documents relating in any way to the loan from Northrim Bank to Alice Rogoff in the approximate amount of $13 million used in connection with the purchase of the stock of Alaska Dispatch.”

That loan to was pivotal in Rogoff’s 2014 purchase of the Anchorage Daily News from The McClatchy Company, a California-based newspaper chain. The loan was made to Rogoff personally, and her “marital settlement agreement” with Rubenstein is reported to have been part of the collateral.

Northrim has said the loan was later converted to a $10 million loan to Alaska Dispatch. The details remain foggy.

Friends say Rogoff gets $5 million per year from Rubenstein to live in Alaska. Both she and her husband have tried their best to keep the deal secret.

Asked to explain the marital agreement while on the witness stand for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing in September, Rogoff said, “I’d rather not. It’s private.”

Marital agreements are “usually a precursor to divorce — in which a married couple spells out how they’re going to handle things like property division, child custody and spousal support,” the Washington Post reported after court records for the first time publicly revealed the Rogoff-Rubenstein agreement. “But a person familiar with the arrangement says in this case, no divorce is currently in the works and that the agreement provides for Rubenstein’s annual payments to his wife, a use of marital settlement agreements sometimes employed by married rich folks who want separate finances. It’s been in place for ‘many, many’ years, the source says.”

Some former Rogoff associates, noting the specificity of marital agreements in Maryland (where this one is reported to have been inked), have pondered whether Rogoff was essentially exiled to Alaska by contractually agreeing to make her home in the 49th state.

“Parties often include provisions that are beyond a court’s power to order. However, once included in a separation agreement, such terms can be enforced by court order,” according to the DivorceNet website. “Separation agreements are generally favored by Maryland courts as a peaceful means of terminating marital strife and discord.”

The rich and famous

The agreement between the couple called for payments of $1 million per year to Rogoff at the time of her purchase of majority interest in the online startup AlaskaDispatch.com in 2009, according to sources who asked for anonymity for fear of offending Rubenstein,  one of the master’s of the country’s economic universe.

Sources close to Rogoff say the payments increased sometime later after Rogoff threatened to divorce Rubenstein and try to get her half of a fortune estimated at close to $3 billion. Rogoff, in the author’s presence, has expressed the belief she is owed half of that fortune.

Rubenstein – one of the country’s richest men, a philanthropist of note since donating $7.5 million to restore the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument in 2012, and  host of the entertaining PBS interview program “Peer to Peer Conversations” – has remained notably silent on his wife’s life in Alaska and her locally high-profile business failure.

Rogoff bought a profitable company and then, according to bankruptcy documents, proceeded to lose more than $16.6 million on her investment over the course of just a little more than three years. 

The ADN was sold to the Binkley Company LCC earlier this year for $1 million. They have cut staff and spending, abandoned costly Anchorage printing operations in favor of a better deal with a printer in a Matanuska-Susitna Borough bedroom community north of Anchorage, and upped newsroom productivity in an effort to resurrect the business.

Meanwhile, Rogoff’s massive losses while the ADN owner and publisher have raised questions as to whether she was actually buying a business or acquiring the state’s largest news organization to peddle influence. If it is the former, she is the creditor owed the most by the now bankrupt Alaska Dispatch News LLC. If it is the latter – if the Dispatch News/ADN was no more than a hobby into which Rogoff poured a lot of cash in order to gain attention – it’s a whole different matter that raises a variety of questions Jipping wants answered.

To try to sort out what was going on with the now-publisher of Arctic Now in her old job as publisher of the Alaska Dispatch/ADN,  Jipping has asked the court to order her to turn over a small mountain of documents.

Among the items, her legal advisers want:

Laundry list

  • “All correspondence or communications between Alaska Dispatch” employees, agents or legal council “relating in any manner to the Northrim Loan.”
  • “Copies of all documents relating to Alaska Dispatch’s grant of a security
    interest in personal property to Northrim Bank.”
  • “Copies of bank statements for all Alaska Dispatch bank accounts identified
    in the Debtor’s Bankruptcy Schedule B (including those accounts in the name of AK
    Publishing, LLC) from May 2014 to August 2017, including copies of the fronts and backs of all checks.”

The Alaska Dispatch News finances are a tangle of Alaska Dispatch News funds and those from AK Publishing LLC, a separate company. The limited liability company AK Publishing was incorporated in 2014 by The Moon and the Stars LLC, according to state records.

The Moon and the Stars is a company wholly owned by Rogoff. Rogoff founded that company in 2009. Suzanne Cherot – an attorney at the then-law firm Birch, Horton, Bittner – was originally listed as the organizer of AK Publishing, but Moon and the Stars quickly emerged as the owner with Rogoff as the company’s manager.

In relation to all of this, the bankruptcy motions asks for:

  • “Copies of all documents relating to any loan made by Alice Rogoff to Alaska
    Dispatch.”
  • “All invoices from Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot to Alaska Dispatch,
    including time records, from 5/14/14 to present.”
  • “Copies of the federal tax returns of the debtor for 2014 through 2016.”
  • “Copies of all documents related to the sale of Alaska Dispatch’s real property
    to GCI NADC, LLC in or around May 2015.”

Rogoff’s sale to GCI of the Anchorage Daily News office building and printing plant on Northway Drive was a pivotal part of Rogoff’s ADN purchase. Of the $34 million she paid McClatchy, $13 million came from the Northrim loan and $15 million from the building sale.

The formal transfer of the ADN building to GCI in May 2015 followed by about a year Rogoff’s April 2014 purchase of the News, but the GCI deal was discussed and agreed to before Rogoff bought the Daily News.

Rogoff and GCI founder Ron Duncan were on chummy terms at the time. They shared a hangar at Merrill Field not far from the ADN building where they kept their personal aircraft. Over time, the friendship soured.

GCI is now in court with Rogoff, trying to collect $1.4 million in back rent and unpaid electric bills.

The full Bankruptcy Court filing follows for those intimately interested:

 

William D. Artus
629 L Street
Suite 104
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
Telephone: (907) 277-9918
Attorney for Trustee
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF ALASKA
In re ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS, LLC, Debtor.
No. 17-00285-GS
Chapter 7
MOTION FOR ORDER FOR RULE 2004 EXAMINATION
Pursuant to Rule 2004, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Nacole Jipping, the Chapter 7 trustee, respectfully requests that the Court enter an order that authorizes William Artus, her attorney, or Christine Tobin-Presser, her proposed special counsel, to conduct an examination as follows:

1. Witness to be Examined: The person or persons who are most familiar with and who can testify about and produce for inspection and copying by the trustee the “Documents to be Produced” that are described below:

2. Date: December 6, 2017

3. Time: 10:00 a.m. Alaska Standard Time

4. Place: 629 L Street, Suite 101, Anchorage, Alaska.

5. Scope of Examination: All financial information pertaining to the debtor, Alaska Publishing, LLC, GCI NADC, LLC, loans made by Northrim Bank to Alice Rogoff and/or the debtor, the sale of property or assets of the debtor, the payment of debts owed by the debtor and the“Documents to be Produced that are described below.

6. Authority re: Communications Between Debtor and Legal Counsel: In Commodity
Futures Trading Commission v. Weintraub, 471 U.S. 343, 105 S.Ct. 1986 (1985), the United States Supreme Court made clear that in a corporate bankruptcy, control over the corporation’s attorney client privilege passes to the bankruptcy trustee. Weintraub, 471 U.S. 357. Thus, the Trustee is entitled to all communications between the Debtor and its legal counsel prior to her appointment.

7. Documents to be Produced:

(1) Copies of all financial statements, internally and/or externally prepared, for Alaska Dispatch News, LLC, formerly known as Alaska Daily News, LLC (“Alaska
Dispatch” or “Debtor”)) from the date of its acquisition by AK Publishing, LLC (“AK Publishing”) through August 2017.

(2) Copies of the federal tax returns of the debtor for 2014 through 2016.

(3) Copies of all documents related to the sale of Alaska Dispatch’s real property to GCI NADC, LLC in or around May 2015 (the “GCI Sale”) including, but not limited to:
(a) Any communications or correspondence between or among the Debtor, including any employee, principal or agent thereof, and any third party including but not limited to (1) any affiliate or insider (as that term is defined in the BankruptcyCode); (2) GCI, including any agent or representative thereof; and/or (3)the Debtor’s legal counsel, relating to the GCI Sale;
(b) Any internal communications or correspondence of the Debtor relating to the GCI Sale;
(c) Copies of all valuations or appraisals (including drafts) prepared, obtained or utilized in connection with the GCI Sale; and
(d) Copies of documents relating to the disposition, transfer, or use of the
proceeds of the GCI Sale.

(4) Copies of all documents relating in any way to the loan from Northrim Bank to Alice Rogoff (“Rogoff”) in the approximate amount of $13,000,000 used in connection with the purchase of the stock of Alaska Dispatch (the “Northrim Loan”) including, but not limited to:
(a) All loan documents;
(b) All correspondence or communications between Alaska Dispatch, including any employee, principal or agent thereof, and any third party, including Alaska Dispatch’s legal counsel, relating in any manner to the Northrim Loan; and
(c) All internal correspondences or communications of the Debt orr elating
to the Northrim Loan.

(5) Copies of all documents relating in any way to the guaranty provided by Alaska Dispatch to Northrim Bank (the “Northrim Loan Guaranty”) with respect to the Northrim Loan, including but not limited to:
(a) All guaranty documents;
(b) All correspondence and other communications by the Debtor, including any employee, principal or agent thereof, and any third party, including Alaska Dispatch’s legal counsel, regarding any direct or indirect payment(s) made by Alaska Dispatch to Northrim Bank with respect to the Northrim Loan Guaranty; and
(c) All internal correspondence and other communications by the Debtor regarding any direct or indirect payment(s) made by Alaska Dispatch to Northrim Bank with respect to the Northrim Loan Guaranty.

(6) Copies of all book entries or financial statements documenting any direct or indirect payments provided by Alaska Dispatch in connection with the Northrim Loan Guaranty.

(7) Copies of all documents relating to Alaska Dispatch’s grant of a security interest in personal property to Northrim Bank, including but not limited to:
(a) All security documents; and
(b) All correspondence and communications including but not limited to communications between Alaska Dispatch, including any employee, principal or
agent thereof, and any third party, including its legal counsel, and all internal correspondence and communications.

(8) Copies of bank statements for all Alaska Dispatch bank accounts identified in the Debtor’s Bankruptcy Schedule B (including those accounts in the name of AK Publishing, LLC) from May 2014 to August 2017, including copies of the fronts and backs of all checks.

(9) Copies of all documents relating to any loan made by Alice Rogoff to Alaska Dispatch (each, a “Rogoff Loan”), including but not limited to:
(a) All loan documents; and
(b) All correspondence and communications including but not limited to communications between Alaska Dispatch, including any employee, principal or
agent thereof, and any third party, including its legal counsel, and all internal correspondence and communications, with respect to any Rogoff Loan.

(10) All invoices from Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot to Alaska Dispatch, including time records, from 5/14/14 to present.

8. Time, Date and Place of Production: November 22, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at 629 L Street,Suite 104, Anchorage, Alaska.

Dated at Anchorage, Alaska on November 7, 2017.
/s/ William D. Artus
William D. Artus
Attorney for Trustee

I certify that on November 7, 2017 a true and correct copy of this Motion was served on U.S. Trustee Nacole Jipping, Trustee
Cabot Christianson, attorney for debtor
Erik LeRoy, attorney for Binkley Company, LLC
and the other persons who receive service of
pleadings by electronic means through the ECF
system as indicated on the Notice of Electronic Filing.
/s/ William D. Artus
William D. Artus

The Rubensteins raised three grown children in the Washington, D.C. area before Rogoff, a regular visitor to Alaska since 2001, split for the north in 2006. She bought a house on Campbell Lake, one Anchorage’s most upscale neighborhoods; gutted it; and rebuilt it into a mini-palace.

While that reconstruction was underway, she pumped enough money into the internet startup AlaskaDispatch.com to allow founders Tony Hopfinger and then-wife Amanda Coyne to grow it into a recognized Alaska news sources. The success of the Dispatch and a big pile of cash eventually gave her the leverage to make a bid for the Daily News, the state’s largest news organization.

Dispatch, McClatchy said in a media release annoucing the $34 million sale, was at the “forefront of reporting on climate change, issues facing rural Alaska, politics and the oil industry, and its staff has won numerous awards for doing so. Alaska Dispatch has a team of veteran reporters that are committed to taking an unflinching look at the state.”

Rogoff was then near the zenith of a meteoric rise in news and political influence that peaked on Aug. 31, 2015 when President Barack Obama visited her Campbell Lake home for dinner. He strolled her dock and poked his head into her Cessna 206, single-engine floatplane moored alongside.

Her newspaper’s coverage of the dinner amounted to four paragraphs buried in a “live blog” of Obama’s movements in the state’s largest city. As reported by the then Alaska Dispatch News/ADN.com newspaper and website:

“‘It was a chance for the president to have a conversation with a diverse group of Alaskans,’ Rogoff said. Because it was a private dinner, no guest list will be distributed, she said. She described it as a ‘non-political event.'”

The non-political event turned out to have include a collection influential Alaskans intersted in Arctic development and Scott Minerd from Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Partners chairman of investments and global chief investment officer.

While Obama’s visit clearly marked the zenith of Rogoff’s political influence, the coverage of Obama’s visit might well have marked the nadir of Dispatch New/ADN.com reporting.

https://craigmedred.news/2017/08/13/the-fallacy/

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3 replies »

  1. Maybe Alice will deed her meager Social Security $ to those she owes. I’d respect that effort, for what it’s worth to those who lost more than she did.

    Like

    • I believe Social Security is based only on the 1099 and W-2 wages that have been reported to the IRS over the past 25 years. And not on money from capital gains, dividends and allowances from your sugar daddy. So … I wouldn’t think Ms. Rogoff has much of any SS money coming to her.

      Like

      • who knows. she was drawing a paycheck in the Carter Whitehouse; she was drawing a paycheck at U.S. News&World report; she was drawing a paycheck at the Washington Post. i don’t know if her LLCs were paying her as their manager or not, but who knows. she might well have more SS coming than i do, though i don’t think she needs it.

        Like

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