A Rochester businessman who Minnesota Public Radio sued in October is denying the organization's claims that he and his company misappropriated nearly $315,000 over the last decade in a business deal.
Thomas H. Jones and his company, United Audio Corporation, also accused MPR of defamation in counterclaims filed this week in Ramsey County District Court.
MPR and United Audio had formed a partnership called Silver Creek Tall Tower Associates in 1985 to construct a broadcast tower and a building to house broadcast equipment near Rochester. United Audio managed the partnership company.
MPR's suit alleged that United Audio and Jones had been "embezzling" money and engaging in "accounting machinations designed to deprive the partnership and MPR of revenue."
MPR News and other media organizations reported on the lawsuit when it was filed Oct. 25.
In his counterclaim, Jones denied the allegations and said MPR was "attempting to gain an unfair advantage in its dealings with one of its partners in order to gain leverage to force that partner to sell or lose its partnership in a profitable radio tower."
The court filing stated that, "MPR has maliciously run roughshod over the reputation of a 77-year-old man and caused to be published statements that he is an embezzler and fraudster in local media."
United Audio's counterclaim says the lawsuit and subsequent publicity has damaged the company's reputation and could affect its credit, property and business.
On Tuesday, MPR spokeswoman Angie Andresen said in a written statement that the organization hopes the dispute will be sorted out soon. "It's unfortunate that the dispute has come to this point. MPR's only goal, all along, has been to protect the financial interests of the partnership," she said.