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Freedom Execs Took Big Bonuses Before East Valley Tribune's Demise

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Big bonuses for execs of failing companies seems to be the common theme in business culture these days, and the East Valley Tribune and its parent company, Freedom Communications, apparently are no exception.

The Trib will cease to be after December 31, putting an end to a newspaper that thrived for more than a century. What you may not know is that as the paper was laying off employees and moving from being a daily to a three-day-a-week paper, Freedom Communications execs got about $2.6 million in bonuses.

Our friends at Heat City did the leg work on this one and got access to court documents filed in Freedom's bankruptcy case. If you're one of the roughly 140 people laid off by the Trib, or someone who is just pissed to see another newspaper fail, get ready to blow a gasket.

According to Heat City, 19 of the company's top brass split about $2.6 million in the first eight months of 2009, as the company's profits continued to dwindle to less than half of what Freedom pocketed in 2007 (check out Heat City if you're a visual learner and need illustrations).

As for the Trib itself, Julie Moreno, the paper's publisher, took a $28,333 bonus in March, just a week before telling staffers they would need to take a week off without pay.

In total, Moreno got $65,456 in bonuses, according to Heat City, on top of a nearly $190,000 annual salary, all within three months of laying off 140 of her employees.

Freedom refuses to discuss the bonuses. The company did not return our call this afternoon but tells Heat City "The company doesn't have any comment beyond what has already been filed in court."

Similarly, the East Valley Tribune will have no comment on anything at all starting January 1.

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