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Gay & Lesbian Times‘ Michael Portantino Was Facing Fraud Charges Before His Suicide

Michael Portantino, the publisher of the San Diego Gay & Lesbian Times who leaped to his death last week, was almost certainly going to face criminal fraud charges for allegedly inflating circulation numbers to advertisers.

The sad, sordid tale that will inevitably become part of Portantino’s legacy started before his newspaper — which he took over in 1989 — simply stopped showing up at drop boxes before officially closing in October, leaving untold numbers of staffers, vendors, and tax authorities on the hook for some serious cash. His attorney Marc Carlos was in the middle of on-going negotiations with a San Diego deputy district attorney, whose office was fielding claims from advertisers that Portantino’s numbers weren’t adding up. With advertisers dropping out, Portantino’s financials were hurting.

But Portantino was not destined for prison, Carlos says he told his client. Though it seems even that assurance wasn’t enough to keep Portantino from spiraling into a depression. Says Carlos: “He was distraught over the whole thing — people impugning his integrity. That is what pushed him over the edge.”