copyright the Chronicle December 13, 2017
by Joseph Gresser
Kenneth Wells, the former publisher of the Newport Daily Express, responded on December 7 to a civil lawsuit filed by the Caledonian-Record accusing him of racketeering.
On Monday Mr. Wells told the Chronicle he wrote the response himself.
“I went through nine drafts,” he said. He said he ran his reply by several lawyers of his acquaintance, but decided not to hire an attorney at this stage of the proceedings.
In his response, Mr. Wells offered a firm denial of allegations that he used the Caledonian-Record’s password to download photographs from the Associated Press (AP) and overstated his paper’s circulation figures to gain a competitive advantage over the St. Johnsbury based paper.
Mr. Wells asserted the complaint was an effort by the Caledonian-Record’s owner to destroy a smaller rival. The Caledonian-Record is a family-owned newspaper based in St. Johnsbury with two regional editions, the Orleans County Record and Littleton Record.
The Newport Daily Express is owned by Horizon Vermont, a part of Horizon Publications of Marion, Illinois. Horizon Publications owns 21 daily papers and 14 weeklies around the country, most published in small communities.
The Newport Daily and its parent company were also named in the complaint. The suit claims both participated in the racketeering enterprise by allowing Mr. Wells to misbehave.
Mr. Wells was fired as publisher of the Newport Daily in November of 2016. The newspaper offered no explanation for ending his employment.
Neither Horizon nor the Newport Daily have responded to the Caledonian-Record’s suit.
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