This is a developing story
Creditors of the bankrupt and now gone Alaska Dispatch News might still be out a couple million dollars, but it appears former Dispatch owner and publisher Alice Rogoff will be comfortably well off in old age.
Terms were not disclosed. Rogoff had been getting a reported $5 million per year from Rubenstein as part of a “spousal agreement” that had her living in Alaska while he split his time between a family home in Chevy Chase, Md., New York, and jetting around the globe.
Rubenstein has been estimated to be worth nearly $3 billion. A 68-year-old financier, he has pledged to devote much of the wealth to philanthropy. In a 2015 segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Morely Safer reported Rubenstein “says his wife Alice and three kids support his decision to give most of it away.”
Privately, Rogoff has always said something else. She expressed the opinion to friends that she was entitled to half the Rubenstein fortune. How much of it she got is unknown.
The Post said attorneys for the couple issued a statement saying that “Alice and David Rubenstein have decided to formalize a divorce following a lengthy separation. The parties continue in support of one another and their respective endeavors. They are and continue to be devoted parents and their love and respect for their family is most important to each of them. They wish each other nothing but the best.”
Rogoff is facing potentinally costly legal problems in Alaska.
A Federal Bankruptcy Court judge is considering a request from a Bankruptcy Court trustee to bring in an investigator to probe what happened to $14.5 million GCI, the Anchorage telecom and cable company, paid Rogoff for the old Anchorage Daily News/ADN building on Northway Drive.
The money, which was key to helping Rogoff swing a $34 million deal to purchase the ADN from The McClatchy Company of California, should have gone to the limited liability company (LLC) buying the newspaper. Exactly which of the many Rogoff-controlled LLCs that was is unclear.
The Dispatch News appears to have operated out of accounts in the name of the Alaska Daily News LLC, Alaska Publishing LLC and the Alaska Dispatch News LLC, and it isn’t clear whether the $14.5 million from GCI went to any of them.
“…The estate may hold significant claims against Ms. Rogoff and/or Northrim Bank,” an attorney for her creditors wrote in a court filing. “…It appears that Ms. Rogoff caused the debtor (Alaska Daily News LLC) to liquidate $14.5 million of the debtor’s own real estate to fund her purchase of 100 percent of the stock in the debtor. In other words, the value of the real estate was removed from the debtor (Alaska Daily News LLC) and used for the benefit of Ms. Rogoff without any apparent corresponding benefit to the debtor.”
Meanwhile, GCI is in state court trying to pierce what it calls “the corporate shield” behind which it believes Rogoff has tried to hide assets. GCI contends Rogoff’s many LLCs – “The Moon and the Stars LLC” being the mother of them all – are nothing but a front for Rogoff Inc.
GCI says Rogoff Inc. owes it about $1.4 million in unpaid rent and utility bills. After Rogoff sold the ADN building to GCI, she rented back the space that contained the old ADN printing press, but refused to pay her bills.
GCI housed the newspaper’s only printing press.
Rogoff tried to install another press in a building in a Midtown Anchorage industrial area, but that press never went operational. After the Fairbanks-based Binkley company bought the Dispatch News out of bankruptcy for $1 million, it abandoned that press and signed a contract to have the paper printed in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
The Binkleys later changed the name of the newspaper back to the Anchorage Daily News and have been trying to distance themselves from Rogoff ever since. The Binkleys tried to help Rogoff out of a financial jam in the summer and buy the newspaper before it went bankrupt, but she spiked the idea.
She has since accused the Binkleys of conspiring to steal her business.
“I believe the Binkleys and GCI together decided to force me to sell,” she told the Columbia Journalism Review.
Bankers and other publishers have said bad business practices were what forced Rogoff into a position where she had to declare bankrupty, but she had problems even before she became entangled in Bankruptcy Court.
Prior to that, she was already in court with AlaskaDispatch.com co-founder Tony Hopfinger. Hopfinger and former wife Amanda Coyne built the online news portal that became influential enough that McClatchy decided to sell the newspaper to the company’s majority owner, Rogoff.
Hopfinger, the minority owner, cautioned Rogoff against the ADN purchase, as did others. The price was way too high, all agreed. Rogoff bought the newspaper anyway.
After the sale, Hopfinger explained to her the cost cutting measures that would be necessary to make the marriage of Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News work as a business. Rogoff refused to make cuts and announced instead that she was going to grow the business to profitability.
Seeing what was coming, Hopfinger negotiated a $1 million sale of the business he and Coyne had built. Rogoff refused to sign a formal contract detailing that sale because she feared it would violate an agreement she’d made with Northrim Bank, which had lent her about a third of the money needed to buy the Daily News.
Northrim didn’t want Rogoff making any other large, financial commitments. So instead of signing a formal contract with Hopfinger, Rogoff wrote out the settlement on a bar napkin; signed it; dated it; and gave the napkin to Hopfinger as her personal guarantee.
She was to pay him $100,000 year for 10 years to settle the debt. She paid him $100,000; accused him of deserting the news operation in its time of need, and refused to pay more.