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Published: Tuesday, 7/1/2008

Motion seeks to reverse Channel 48 sale to church

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The court-ordered sale of assets of the former Channel 48 to Cornerstone Church should be undone because an attorney listed in documents as representing the station's former owners was not their lawyer, according to a motion filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

The motion cites a rule that allows a judge to relieve a party from a final judgment or order because of fraud, misrepresentation, "or other misconduct of an adverse party."

The motion says the judgment entry ordering the sale of the assets of L&M Video Productions Inc. to Cornerstone was submitted in 2005 to Matthew Fech as an attorney for the company.

He never represented the production company, according to the motion and an affidavit signed by Mr. Fech.

They said when Howard Hershman, an attorney for Cornerstone, sent to the court copies of an order confirming the sale of the station, the paperwork said it was submitted to Mr. Fech, though he was not an attorney for L&M.

"At minimum, [that action] constitutes 'misconduct of an adverse party,'•" the motion says.

Mr. Fech declined to comment yesterday, as did attorney Keith J. Watkins, who filed the motion on behalf of former Channel 48 owners Lamaree "Marty" and Linda Miller and L&M Broadcasting Inc.

But Mr. Hershman responded sharply. "Have you seen anything more scurrilous in I-don't-know-when?" Mr. Hershman said. "It's defamatory. It's untrue. Counsel didn't do his homework before he filed it."

Mr. Hershman said he told Mr. Watkins by phone if the motion isn't withdrawn by the close of business today, he'd file a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking sanctions.

Mr. Hershman said Mr. Fech appeared in the paperwork because "I was just letting the court know I sent him a copy of the order." He said Mr. Fech's name appeared on a motion filed on behalf of L&M earlier in 2005.

"The thing that is baldfaced untrue about this affidavit is that he said he never represented L&M," Mr. Hershman said. "It's been 2 1/2 years. You'd think if that were a problem, someone would have raised it."

The latest wrinkle in the ownership saga of low-power WMNT follows recent court and administrative defeats for Mr. and Mrs. Miller and L&M Broadcasting.

The Federal Communications Commission on May 30 rejected Mr. Miller's petition to reconsider its May, 2007, decision assigning the station's broadcast license to Matrix Broadcast Media Inc., a subsidiary of Cornerstone.

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

In March, Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings said the former owners of Channel 48 diverted more than $125,000 from the station's court-appointed receiver only to use the money for personal items. She ordered the Millers to repay that amount to the court-appointed receiver.

They have appealed, Mr. Watkins said yesterday.

The Millers for years have challenged Cornerstone over ownership of the station, which features sports and entertainment programming and is now carried on Channel 58 on Buckeye CableSystem.

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

Still pending in Common Pleas Court is a $5 million lawsuit in which the Millers claim that the Rev. Robert Pitts, associate pastor of Cornerstone, and the church conspired to fraudulently and illegally wrest control of the station from the couple and their firm.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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