The paper that Walt Whitman started in 1838 is back in local hands.
The Long-Islander’s announced sale to a Washington, D.C.-based financial holding company is off.
Peter Sloggatt, associate publisher and managing editor of the weekly, confirmed that the deal was dead. "The old masthead will be returning," he said, adding that he had no further information on what had happened to sale.
Michael Schenkler, publisher of The Long-Islander since 2006 and president of Tribco, LLC, had announced the sale of his media holdings to PFH Media Group in early January.
PFH Media Group is a subsidiary of investment firm Phoenix Financial Holdings.
The sale occurred while the U.S. Labor Department was investigating the handling of employee benefit plans at another publication owned by Phoenix.
Sharon Byron, an auditor for the Labor Department, confirmed to Patch that "an investigation is moving forward for valid reasons" after complaints about payroll and other problems at a publication in Antioch, Ill. She emphasized that the investigation is looking at the handling of those benefit plans, and that those with responsibilities for them may or may not be company employees.
PFH Chairman Brandy Williams declined several times to say whether his company owned the publication, Lakes Area Advertiser, until it went out of business. But he conceded, "Things got tight; things were happening and money was not paid. Sometimes you have to choose payroll over other things."
Byron, an auditor based in the Chicago area, said her department, the employee benefits security administration, investigates complaints about any funds withheld by an employer, such as 401(k) plans, health insurance and other programs. The complaint was filed in 2012; Phoenix bought the shopper, the Lakes Area Advertiser, in May 2012.