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Mar. 4—MicroHelp, a promising Marietta software company, was shut down last month amid allegations its Los Angeles owners have "looted assets," lavishing corporate funds on friends, stereos and the Church of Scientology.
The company, which had more than 60 employees just a few months ago, closed in mid-February, about three months after being bought by Luckman Interactive of Los Angeles.
Monday, Luckman officials said they were betrayed by MicroHelp's four major shareholders, the company's top management. "Basically, we paid them $4 million, made them rich, and they left the company," said Bryan Eggers, a spokesman for Luckman Interactive. "They left the company in a total turmoil and shortly after there was a massive resignation," leaving Luckman with no choice but to shut the company's doors.
Luckman has been sued by Yorkton Securities Inc., a Canadian capital investment company that owns 22 percent of Luckman's common stock, according to court papers. That suit — contested by Luckman — includes charges the company "squandered significant funds" by, among other things, using corporate funds to buy home furnishings, stereo equipment and lease luxury automobiles, and giving funds to the Church of Scientology, as well as diverting corporate funds to friends of Luckman executives.
The four former MicroHelp managers say they negotiated with Yorkton in an effort to take over Luckman or to form a new company based on MicroHelp's technology. But the four accuse Luckman of having defaulted on its obligations, financial and otherwise, according to Kirk Watkins, the group's attorney. "There are additional millions of dollars owed that has not been paid."
Watkins represents Mark Novisoff, company chairman and founder; Timothy O'Pry, former MicroHelp chief executive, as well as Janet Van Pelt, former chief financial officer, and Tom Lynch, a vice president.
MicroHelp won praise for several products, including Uninstaller, a program to safely remove files and applications from a computer's hard disk. Luckman Interactive is a privately held company specializing in Internet software.
Sam Patterson, former product manager for MicroHelp's component products division, said when Luckman bought MicroHelp, it did not renegotiate agreements with companies that provided products MicroHelp used or resold. Those licenses with MicroHelp could not be transferred without a new agreement. The Luckman purchase made it impossible for MicroHelp to use the products, Patterson said.
Eggers said he doesn't expect the company to renegotiate the licenses once held by MicroHelp. Luckman plans to offer support for customers of Uninstaller and another program called Zip.
Copyright 1997 Atlanta Journal & Constitution