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Judge dismisses Charleston Newspapers bankruptcy case

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the bankruptcy case of the former owners of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Pending the payment of attorneys fees and the transfer of money toward Charleston Newspapers’ debt with United Bank, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Volk approved the motion to dismiss the case from his docket a little less than 18 months after the newspaper’s former owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As of the hearing before Volk on Wednesday, Charleston Newspapers nearly had satisfied all of its liabilities, save for fees owed to attorneys and accountants, as well as whatever money was left over to be paid to United Bank.

Volk said once Charleston Newspapers satisfied those payments, he would enter his final order to dismiss the case altogether.

Charleston Newspapers had more than $31 million in liabilities when its owners filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 30, 2018. About half of that amount, $15.6 million, was due to United Bank for an outstanding balance from a loan the company took in 2006.

The second-largest liability was more than $12 million owed to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency intended to help guarantee retirement plans.

The newspaper’s liabilities also included an arbitration award the owners of the Gazette-Mail were ordered to pay in 2017 to the former owners of the Charleston Daily Mail, which was combined with the Charleston Gazette in 2015.

In a statement supporting the dismissal, Peter Pearl, representing United Bank, said the bank received an initial payment of $9,799,360.99 when HD Media purchased the Gazette-Mail in March 2018. The bank later received $502,119.40 after capital adjustments were made following the sale.

HD Media closed the sale of the Gazette-Mail and assumed ownership on March 30, 2018.

The bank agreed to hold back a little more than $1.3 million to allow Charleston Newspapers to wind down the business.

As of July 10, United Bank had a remaining secured claim over $6,354,484.07 it was set to receive in the case.

Reach Lacie Pierson at

lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow

@laciepierson on Twitter.

Funerals for Sunday, August 18, 2019

Combs, Amy - 5 p.m., Bible Center Church, Charleston.

Michael, Sherry - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Morrison, Ray - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Smith, Robert - 3 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Stump. Arleen - 1 p.m., Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Wright, Gary - 2 p.m., Preston Funeral Home, Charleston.