Former Newspaper Chief Gets 3 Years in Jail for Embezzlement

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The former chief of Murphy McGinnis Media Inc. has been sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison for embezzling $1.7 million from a Florida newspaper chain he ran.

James M. McGinnis Jr. was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in July to wire fraud for his theft from Heartland Publications LLC, based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Under his plea agreement, prosecutors recommended a sentence between 41 and 51 months.

McGinnis used much of the money he stole to pay off personal debts he owed in the Duluth-Superior area, according to the plea agreement.

McGinnis will have to serve at least 85 percent of his 41-month sentence. He also was ordered to forfeit $1.7 million and pay restitution of $1 million.

McGinnis was president and CEO of Murphy McGinnis Media Inc. from 1995 through 2003. The Superior, Wis.-based company once published 17 newspapers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, including The Superior Daily Telegram in Wisconsin, and the Mesabi Daily News of Virginia and the Hibbing Daily Tribune in Minnesota.

He left and became CEO of Heartland, which published 23 papers in seven states. Heartland’s principal partners sued McGinnis last year and won a judgment of $5.1 million.

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