Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Former Free Press publisher files for bankruptcy

Pounds owes about $300K in taxes, other debts

A former general manager of The Blade filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, two months after settling a long-running contract dispute with the newspaper's parent company out of court.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy documents filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo show Thomas F. Pounds of Toledo owes about $37,000 in taxes and about $258,000 in other debt. About $123,000 of that is owed to Block Communications Inc., which owns The Blade.

In 2011, BCI filed suit against Mr. Pounds alleging he had breached the terms of a separation agreement he signed when he left The Blade. Mr. Pounds, who went on to become publisher of the Toledo Free Press, was accused of using that paper to disparage BCI and its employees.

BCI argued it was entitled to damages of more than $188,000 related to the breached agreement.

Mr. Pounds and the Free Press later filed counterclaims against BCI related to competition for advertising, among other allegations.

BCI, Mr. Pounds, and the now-shuttered Toledo Free Press LLC agreed to voluntarily dismiss their claims and counterclaims with each paying its own legal fees, according to an order signed Jan. 9 by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook.

The settlement is confidential and not part of the court record, but documents show all claims were dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning that neither side can refile its complaint.

Mr. Pounds listed debt in the bankruptcy filing as having been incurred between 2001 and the present. Neither he nor an attorney listed in the filing returned calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows individuals to have their debts discharged.

“The bankruptcy discharge relieves you after bankruptcy from having to pay many of your pre-bankruptcy debts,” court documents state.

In addition to the nearly $123,000 owed to BCI, Mr. Pounds owes $60,000 to Rohrbachers, Light, Cron & Trimble Co. L.P.A. for legal fees, court documents show. Toledo attorney Matthew Rohrbacher represented Mr. Pounds in his dispute with BCI.

He also owes $19,000 to Springfield Township resident Alan Brass, a former chief executive officer of ProMedica, for a “business related” loan; just over $18,000 to Capital One for debt related to the Toledo Free Press, and nearly $20,000 in credit card debts.

His assets, including personal property and retirement accounts, total about $78,000 and his total liabilities, about $295,000. His home is listed under his wife's name and is worth $126,800, according to Lucas County tax records.

Court documents show Mr. Pounds had about $330 in his checking account but also listed a $1,500 Rolex watch in the summary of his assets.

Mr. Pounds recorded his monthly income as about $8,407 from work as an account executive with Raycom Media, which owns WTOL-TV Channel 11, but court records state his income is expected to decrease “due to termination of employment contract prior to petition date.”

The Toledo Free Press closed in 2015 after 10 years and more than 500 issues.

Staff writer Jennifer Feehan contributed to this report.

Contact Sarah Elms at: selms@theblade.com or 419-724-6103 or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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