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November 24, 2002

Lawsuit target kills self

From: Akron Beacon Journal, OH - 24 Nov 2002

Businessman, socialite Bruce Baskin found dead in his Akron apartment. Two suicide notes found

By Karalee Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer

Facing lawsuits and allegations of financial wrongdoing, prominent Akron businessman and socialite Bruce Baskin committed suicide in his South Akron apartment.

Baskin, 59, shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber revolver Friday, said Mike Halas, a forensic investigator with the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office.

Baskin was found dead in his one-bedroom apartment on Nesmith Lake about 10:30 a.m. by his cleaning lady. Two suicide notes were found in the apartment, Akron police detectives said.

Baskin was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. Friday by Chief Medical Examiner Lisa J. Kohler. An autopsy was conducted Saturday, with ``findings consistent with suicide,'' Halas said.

A red tag asking that no one ``enter premises or disturb this tag'' was hanging Saturday on the gold knob of the door to Baskin's lakefront apartment. It had been left by the medical examiner's office.

Several of the apartments at the complex were vacant. A few neighbors said they saw the police come to the complex Friday but were unaware that Baskin had killed himself.

Carol Hornak, the leasing manager, said Baskin had moved in less than two weeks ago.

Baskin and his wife, Barbara, were well known in Akron theater and social circles. Barbara Baskin was heavily involved with the Akron Civic Theatre, and the couple hosted cast parties at their home.

Bruce Baskin ran for a Bath Township trustee seat in 1997 and was an avid letter writer to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Bruce Baskin had been the target of lawsuits filed by people and companies that did business with the Audiology Cos. business he co-founded. The buying and marketing group bought hearing aids and related products and services at a discount for members, who were hearing-care professionals.

The business had about 400 members in 47 states, according to one of the lawsuits. Those members recently sued Baskin and the group, alleging they were owed large sums.

Gerald Castor, one of the other co-founders of the Audiology Cos., said in an interview Friday that Bruce Baskin basically had been running the companies since 1981. Castor last worked for the group in 1998.

Baskin announced his retirement in July.

About that time, brokerage firm Merrill Lynch alleges, Baskin approached its offices and announced that he planned to move to Switzerland, leaving behind his wife. He also asked for a letter of introduction to a bank in St. Martin, West Indies, the firm said in a lawsuit.

Baskin also authorized transfers from business accounts to accounts in his name, according to the Merrill Lynch suit. As of Nov. 15, a little more than $1 million remained in the business accounts. Merrill Lynch declined to comment Friday on whether any money had been withdrawn from those accounts prior to that date.

The Audiology Cos. recently closed its doors and auctioned off the offices' contents.

Merrill Lynch is suing basically to have a federal judge decide what to do with the money in the business accounts.

Rod Hoskin, who had been prepared to auction off the contents of the Baskins' sprawling ranch home in Bath Township on Saturday, said he learned of Bruce Baskin's death Friday night.

The auction, which had been scheduled to start at 10 a.m., has been postponed indefinitely, Hoskin said. He and colleagues turned away an estimated 100 vehicles from the site Saturday morning.

Baskin, who was born in New York City, was a graduate of Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute, State University of New York at Farmingdale on Long Island and the University of Akron. He was a certified public accountant and served on the executive board of the Akron-Canton Area Agency on Aging.

Baskin was a member of Temple Israel. He is to be buried today at a graveside service at Rose Hill Cemetery. A shiva will follow.
Beacon Journal business writer Jim Mackinnon contributed to this report. Karalee Miller can be reached at 330-478-6000 (Ext.18) or

© 2001 ohio and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.