U.S. authorities Wednesday arrested three former executives of the newspapers Newsday and Hoy, asserting that they committed fraud by overstating circulation figures.
Federal agents arrested Edward Smith and Robert Garcia at their homes in New York, and Richard Czark was arrested in South Carolina, officials said.
The arrests were the first in the government's probe of the circulation scandal, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.
Melville, N.Y.-based Newsday and the New York edition of the Spanish-language Hoy have admitted that they overstated circulation data used to set rates for advertisers.
Both papers are owned by Tribune Co., which also publishes the Los Angeles Times. Tribune has set aside about $90 million to compensate advertisers that were overcharged based on the faulty data.
If convicted of the fraud charges, each defendant will face as many as 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.