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Rockies Owners Sued Over Trustee

August 17, 1999

DENVER (AP) _ A lawsuit filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court accuses the Colorado Rockies of failing to cooperate with a bankrupt trustee who is trying to sell a multimillion-dollar stake in the team.

The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of the trust liquidating the assets of Oren Benton, a former Denver uranium trader and former Rockies partner. The defendants are Rockies managing general partner Jerry McMorris and general partners Dick and Charlie Monfort.

Trustee David Beckman cited several complaints against McMorris and the Monforts, the most crucial being their decision to reject, on the grounds of conflicts of interest, a number of individuals or groups considering buying the 23.7 percent stake once owned by Benton.

``We have been overly patient making sincere efforts to work with the other owners to sell our significant ownership in the team,″ Beckman said in a statement. ``Unfortunately, we have concluded that McMorris and the Monforts have at every turn been aggressively uncooperative, seemingly in an attempt to force a sale of our ownership share back to them at a ridiculously low price.″

The suit accuses McMorris and the Monforts of failing to pay any annual profits to the two Benton trusts and of providing only sparse and late information about the team’s finances.

``I’m as confident as I’m standing here that our cooperation has been 100 percent,″ McMorris said.

Both sides acknowledge McMorris made an offer to buy the Benton stake two years ago. Seeking more money for the trusts, Beckman hired the investment banking firm Warburg Dillon Read to seek prospective bidders.

McMorris said one of the bidders had ties to Ascent Entertainment Group, the Denver pay-per-view company that recently agreed to sell the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center for $461 million to Denver telecommunications magnate Donald Sturm.

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