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Newspaper, ex-publisher settle lawsuit

August 28. 2013 11:49PM

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SCRANTON — A federal lawsuit the owners of The Times Leader filed against former publisher Richard L. Connor has settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

The suit filed in May 2012 by Wilkes-Barre Publishing LLC alleged Connor failed to repay the company more than $250,000 in loans made to him during his tenure as chief executive officer and editor and publisher of The Times Leader from 2006 to 2011 when he resigned.

The newspaper was purchased in March 2012 by Versa Capital Management LLC, which acquired all assets of the newspaper, including the debt owed to the company by Connor.

Attorney Mark D. Bradshaw, who represented Wilkes-Barre Publishing, confirmed the suit settled to the benefit of all parties.

Connor’s attorney, George A. Reihner of Scranton, did not return a message for comment on Wednesday.

The suit alleged Connor “engaged in a pattern” of conduct that caused the newspaper to transfer cash for his personal use and to pay personal credit card charges he incurred.

The Times Leader and Connor “reached an understanding” that the funds paid to him were loans that would need to be repaid. Connor signed a written statement acknowledging the amount that was owed according to audits performed in 2008 and 2010, the suit alleged.

In his defense, Connor argued the newspaper failed to abide by an agreement that it would offset his debt by money he is owed. Connor said he took voluntary pay cuts and did not receive certain bonuses he had earned “as a result of the newspaper’s financial condition.”

Connor noted in his defense that he was not credited for unused vacation time and was not provided an offset that would reflect the risk Connor assumed when he loaned the newspaper more than $1 million during his employment.

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