"Never did we try to go down there and run a scam or defraud." - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

"Never did we try to go down there and run a scam or defraud anybody."

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- A new Wausau newspaper is raising concerns. The man behind the media has put together papers before, but he hasn't always received rave reviews. He admits -- his last effort was a failure and it cost other people money. But he said this time will be different.

Joseph Morey went to Columbus, Wisconsin three years ago to start a weekly newspaper. Some people there said they were excited to see how it would turn out.

"And they said, you will have your own paper," said Helen Petrich, who lived in Columbus. "It will be right out in front and Columbus will have their own. Well, alright, go Columbus."

Morey said he had every intention of putting together a quality publication, but about two months in -- he says things took a turn for the worse.

"We took $20,000 in savings down there, spent all that and at the time we had sold about $3,000 worth of subscriptions," said Morey. "We ran through that too."

Out of money -- and out of options -- Morey went back home to northern Wisconsin, but he left dozens of angry subscribers behind. Some of them came to the Columbus city hall three years ago -- a reporter from our sister station in Madison was there too. The customers each paid $32 for a year-long subscription that ended ten months too soon.

"So I'm waiting and waiting and I think, hmm. Two weeks. Long two weeks. February -- it's now April. Don't have the paper yet," said Petrich.

"I feel taken advantage of. I think the community was taken advantage of," said Joseph Mayr, Sr., who also lived in Columbus.

"Never did we try to go down there and run a scam or defraud anybody," said Morey. "We did the best we could. We tried to put a paper out for this community and it just didn't happen. It failed."

Morey said he wanted to pay his subscribers back, but couldn't afford it. 88 of his former customers filed a lawsuit against him.

"In the end, the subscribers didn't get paid back," said Morey. "I went back and talked to a lawyer and the lawyer advised me to file bankruptcy. I didn't have $16,000. I barely had the $3,000."

After filing bankruptcy, Morey left town for good. Now, he's in Wausau, hoping to start over with another newspaper.

"We thought we saw an opportunity to come here and try a small weekly publication," said Morey.

His free weekly hit news stands about two weeks ago. Morey said he hopes to turn a profit by selling ads. He said his wife is helping him start their new venture.

"We look for headlines and then I'll just condense them down to a short paragraph," said Morey. "That's part of the publication and we have a lot of fun stuff we just want to put in there, fun facts, weird news, tweets of the week and different things like that."

The paper is just one page -- front and back. Morey said he's starting small, but he hopes to do big things and avoid the mistakes he made three years ago.

Because Morey filed for bankruptcy, he didn't end up having to pay back his customers. He said he would be willing to do it -- but he claimed he doesn't have a record of who those people are. He says he gave it to the court.

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