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Tribune creditors seek $7.4M from ex-Newsday publisher

Former Newsday publisher Timothy P. Knight. (May 12,

Former Newsday publisher Timothy P. Knight. (May 12, 2008) Photo Credit: Newsday / Julia Gaines

A former Newsday publisher is being sued for $7.4 million by creditors of Tribune Co., which once owned the newspaper, according to court documents.

The creditors are seeking to recoup bonus payments and stock given to Timothy P. Knight, Newsday's publisher and chief executive from 2004 to 2009. He received the compensation in December 2007 and August 2008 before Tribune filed for bankruptcy because of crushing debt from a leveraged buyout.

Knight is among 36 individuals, including members of Tribune's board of directors and top management, to be named in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., by unsecured creditors. Others being sued include corporate foundations and investment banks.

Knight is the only former Newsday official being sued. "I haven't seen any of this stuff," he said Wednesday. "I don't know anything about it and will look into it and get back to you on it." He had not provided a more detailed response as of press time.

Tribune Co. spokesman Gary Weitman said the lawsuit was filed to protect the rights of unsecured creditors in advance of the two-year statute of limitations. "They are being stayed for the present time according to court order," he said. "The filing of these claims does not imply any wrongdoing."

An aide to Daniel B. Rath, the creditors' Wilmington lawyer, said he would have no comment Wednesday.

Chicago-based Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, as well as television and radio stations. It sold Newsday to Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage in May 2008. In December, Tribune was forced to file for bankruptcy. It submitted a reorganization plan to the court two months ago that is under review.

Knight, 45, left Huntington Bay after stepping down as Newsday publisher for Illinois, where previously he worked as a Tribune executive. He joined Newsday as executive vice president and general manager in 2003 and became publisher a year later after a scandal involving circulation employees inflating sales figures.

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