Hundred-Million-Dollar Racketeering Complaint Filed Against Metro Newspapers

Lawyers for Daniel Magnus, the former publisher of free-sheet newspaper Metro New York, have filed an amended complaint in New York’s Southern District Court charging the media company with racketeering.

Magnus first filed suit against his former employers in February, claiming that he was owed severance and bonus pay; now he’s amended the complaint to add RICO violations.

In the filing, he claims that the company asked him to backdate and alter corporate documents—and that this qualifies as racketeering because the U.S. mail and “wire communication systems” were used.

He makes a similar RICO claim because of a conspiracy to engineer a false firing cause for his termination—and also for defamation.

Magnus was let go along with another couple dozen staffers from Philadelphia, Boston and New York outposts of the international free newspaper chain in late January. The three newspapers’ production has been recently centralized in its Wall Street-based New York offices; some staffers have also been brought to New York.

Magnus became the managing director and publisher of Metro New York in May of 2006. Around January 15, 2008, he claims, he was asked by lawyers for his employers to sign false documents—backdated memos including minutes of corporate meetings. He refused. On January 21, he was fired.

Magnus claims that, at his termination meeting, he was told that he needed to sign “a release of claims and promise of confidentiality” or he would be considered fired for cause and performance reasons.

He refused, and therefore was not paid his bonus for 2007 (around $150,000), his stock options (around $2 million) and $15,000, which is his 180 days’ worth of severance pay. He is also asking for an amended 2006 bonus (another $125,000) and is asking for $2.475 million in total pay.

In addition, he is asking for $5 million for violation of anti-retaliatory firing rules, $10 million for fraudulent statements against him, $30 million for racketeering and attorneys fees plus penalties.

In total, on all five of his claims, he is asking for $100 million dollars.

Magnus is represented by Alan Sklover of Sklover and Donath.

Hundred-Million-Dollar Racketeering Complaint Filed Against Metro Newspapers