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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2008

Ex-owner of Channel 48 loses 2 rulings

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Miller Miller
DARREL ELLIS / BLADE Enlarge

Lamaree "Marty" Miller has suffered two more setbacks in his ongoing battle to regain control of his former television station, WMNT (Channel 48), from Cornerstone Church:

•The Federal Communications Commission has rejected Mr. Miller's petition to reconsider its May, 2007, decision assigning the station's broadcast license to Cornerstone Church's subsidiary Matrix Broadcast Media Inc.

•U.S. District Judge James Carr has dismissed a discrimination suit filed by Mr. Miller against Cornerstone.

A May 30 ruling issued by the FCC's Hossein Hashemzadeh said Mr. Miller failed to substantiate claims that Cornerstone or Matrix acquired Channel 48 through fraud or misconduct. Mr. Hashemzadeh is an associate chief of the FCC's video division.

"Instead, a local court recently found that Miller and his wife 'fraudulently diverted $125,358.70 from [the station]' in clear violation of an earlier court order," Mr. Hashemzadeh said, referring to a March decision by Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Linda Jennings.

Earl Murry, president of the board of directors of Mr. Miller's L&M Video Productions Inc., said yesterday that he and Mr. Miller would appeal the FCC ruling.

"When we are able to get into a court of jurisprudence, we will be able to show that there is and was fraud that occurred," Mr.

Murry said. "But we need to get into court because at every turn the courts have not allowed us to introduce the evidence."

He said Mr. Hashemzadeh's ruling was "proper, based on the evidence before the FCC," but that "once we get into court and the court learns what has occurred the FCC will reverse itself. We're not worried about it."

Mr. Murry said none of L&M Video's board members was involved in Mr. Miller's federal discrimination suit.

"Marty did whatever he did on his own and however Judge Carr rules on that matter, that's between Marty and the federal court."

Mr. Miller did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Mr. Miller filed the discrimination suit pro se, or without legal counsel, in February, 2006.

Judge Carr, in his 11-page decision, said Mr. Miller was employed by L&M Video and not by Cornerstone Church. Even if Mr. Miller had been a Cornerstone employee, the judge said, he failed to rebut the "legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons" for his firing.

"We're very happy about it. We're very excited," the Rev. Robert Pitts, Cornerstone's associate pastor, said yesterday of the case's dismissal. "Anyone who knows Cornerstone Church and who knows us as people knows that it's absurd to claim we discriminated against anyone."

Mr. Miller and his wife, Linda, have been involved for years in legal and governmental disputes with Cornerstone Church over ownership of the low-power station, which features sports and entertainment programming and is carried on Channel 58 on Buckeye CableSystem.

The Millers bought the low-power station in 1996 and became financially involved with Cornerstone Church the following year. Cornerstone, a Pentecostal church in Maumee with 6,000 weekly attendance, purchased the station at auction for $913,000 after it went into receivership in 2005.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.



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