The co-owner of Lillie Suburban Newspapers, Jeffrey Enright, has filed for bankruptcy in a case that may be tangled with the finances of the North St. Paul-based media company.
Enright on Monday filed under Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, which means he plans to liquidate assets to pay off creditors. Enright, of White Bear Lake, listed assets of $391,000 in the filing and liabilities of $2.16 million, most of which are "business expenses." Enright also noted in his filing that "Lillie Suburban Newspapers Inc." is a business name he has used.
The company, however, has not filed for bankruptcy and "is operating as usual," co-owner Ted Lillie wrote in an e-mail. "Lillie Suburban Newspapers has no knowledge of and will not comment on Mr. Enright's personal affairs."
Lillie declined to comment further.
The Lillie company publishes eight newspapers with corresponding websites, serving Maplewood, White Bear Lake, Oakdale, Mahtomedi, Lake Elmo, New Brighton, Roseville, Little Canada, Shoreview, Arden Hills, South St. Paul, West St. Paul and St. Anthony.
Enright and Lillie are cousins and grandsons of T.R. Lillie, who founded the newspaper company 80 years ago. Ted Lillie is listed as CEO of Lillie Suburban Newspapers in a corporate filing with the state. Lillie and Enright appear to have been co-publishers of the newspapers, though Enright's role just before the bankruptcy isn't clear.
In his Chapter 7 filing, Enright said he's been working for the last six months as a printer at University of St. Thomas. Enright, through his attorney, declined to comment.
Enright's debts stem from at least $75,000 in credit card purchases, but his largest creditors, which include at least two St. Paul banks, are listed as "business expenses." The largest creditor listed in his bankruptcy is the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU) Retirement Fund, a multi-employer pension fund that's owed $975,000.
GCIU, which is now a part of the Teamsters, had represented printing employees of Lillie.
The company in 2015 withdrew from the union's national pension fund, triggering a large liability that the company didn't pay.
The GCIU pension plan sued Lillie last fall in federal court and won a judgment of $941,000 against the company in February.
Ted Lillie, who was an east metro Republican state senator from 2011 to 2013, also is listed as a creditor in Enright's bankruptcy. He's owed $100,000 for "business expenses," the filing said.