Wilkes-Barre Times Leader sues former publisher Richard Connor

The Citizens Voice | Bangor Daily News
Richard Connor “engaged in a pattern of causing The Times Leader to transfer cash to him for personal use and causing The Times Leader to satisfy personal credit card charges,” says a lawsuit filed by Wilkes-Barre Publishing LLC against its former CEO. Connor, the suit says, acknowledged the debts, some $250,123, but never repaid them.

Connor bought the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader in 2006 for $65 million; it sold recently for $5 million to Versa Capital Management, a private equity firm that specializes in distressed properties.

Connor didn’t reply to reporter Michael R. Sisak’s requests for comment, but his attorney, Rick Finberg, released a statement saying Wilkes-Barre Publishing had not supplied him with details on the alleged debts. “We also will be seeking additional information to determine the extent to which either the current or former owners of the paper owe money to Mr. Connor and his wife,” Finberg said in the statement.

Connor is also the former owner and CEO of MaineToday Media. In October 2011, he announced he would resign as CEO there and in Wilkes-Barre. An expenses flap figured in that departure, Al Diamon reported at the time:

According to informed sources, Connor’s investors and partners have been questioning him about expenses he’s charged to the company and the way those costs have been allocated between MaineToday and Impressions Media. (The two companies are separate entities, but share some board members.)

The board is also said to be upset about Connor’s recent trip to Italy. According to one person inside the company and one knowledgeable outsider, Connor took some employees from both companies and several major advertisers on the excursion to Europe, which was part of a marketing promotion rewarding major advertisers. (Contrary to my previously published version of this story, MTM senior vice president for advertising Michele Lester was not on that trip, nor has Lester left the company.)

Even though both the Maine and Pennsylvania papers were involved in the Italian trip, Connor charged most of the expenses to MTM. When board members in Maine learned of this, they began investigating the allocation of other expenses, discovering that the trip to Italy did not appear to be the first instance in which expenses were improperly placed on MaineToday’s books.

Connor was recently tapped to oversee the transition of American Community Newspapers’ Northern Virginia papers after they were purchased by HPR Hemlock LLC, a Texas company.

Related: MaineToday Media CEO departure clouded by speculation, confusion | MaineToday Media sued for $124k by paper company

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