The Spanish-language radio empire of former Hartford Club President Richard Weaver-Bey has been whittled to almost nothing.
The court-appointed receiver for Freedom Communications of Connecticut said Monday that he expects to sell the last of Freedom's three AM radio stations to the company that bought its two larger Hartford-area stations last month for $2.65 million.
W. Lawrence Patrick, Freedom's overseer since he was appointed temporary receiver in September 2006, said a deal with Gois Broadcasting of Connecticut for WKND-AM could be presented to the Federal Communications Commission as soon as this week. Gois has a tentative deal to purchase it for about $150,000, Patrick said.
At 500 watts, WKND is the smallest of Freedom's Hartford-area Spanish-language radio stations. In the deal that closed last month, Gois bought WLAT-AM (5000 watts) and WNEZ-AM (1,000 watts).
A private, family-owned business, Gois also owns WORC-1310AM in Worcester, Mass. It previously owned Spanish-language stations in Springfield.
The sale of Freedom Communications' stations is part of the company's ongoing and nearly complete liquidation, prompted in early 2006 by President Richard Weaver-Bey's allegations of misconduct on the part of Chief Executive Stephen Brisker. The two men were the only members of the company's board of directors and each owned 50 percent of Freedom's Class A voting common stock, according to court documents.
In April 2006, Fleet Development Ventures LLC, Freedom's major investor, filed suit against Brisker, citing claims by Weaver-Bey and others that Brisker's widespread financial misconduct imperiled Freedom's future as a business.
The suit alleged that Brisker diverted company funds for personal use and gave jobs to a daughter and a girlfriend who did little or no work, among other things. A federal magistrate in Bridgeport eventually placed the company — paralyzed by the dispute between its top two officers — in receivership, allowing an independent third party to run it.
Neither Weaver-Bey, once one of the city's highest-profile businessman, nor Brisker could be reached for comment Monday. Brisker denied the charges in a May 2006 court filing and later filed for bankruptcy.
Patrick said he had not talked with either man in a about a year. Fleet's attorney, Michael Blanchard of Bingham McCutchen in Hartford, was out of state and not available, a receptionist said Monday. Brisker's lead lawyer, Gardiner B. Davis of Spencer Fane Britt & Browne of Kansas City, said he has lost touch with his client.
Patrick said the sale of WKND will essentially complete Freedom's liquidation. More than $1.1 million has been paid out to government creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service, various State of Connecticut agencies and the City of Hartford.
Lawyers, accountants, Patrick's firm and others involved in the dissolution of Freedom's assets have also received payments. About $300,000 is still owed to a variety of small creditors, Patrick said. He is advertising Freedom's liquidation now in an effort to identify creditors who have not yet come forward.
A preferred stockholder, Bank of America, has a claim on $3.5 million, more than the value of Freedom's remaining assets, Patrick said. A pending suit by a former business partner of Weaver-Bay also seeks compensation.
The radio stations have operated without interruption during the liquidation, Patrick said, and at a small profit.
"If Mr. Weaver-Bey and Mr. Brisker had run these stations well, they'd be millionaires now," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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