An article in yesterday's Business section incorrectly identified the magazine owned by Mortimer B. Zuckerman that won a national magazine award last year. The magazine is Fast Company. (Published 11/21/99)

The No. 2 executive in the publishing group controlled by Mortimer B. Zuckerman was found dead in an Ocean City, Md., motel Nov. 13, an apparent suicide, just days after she was asked to explain spending in excess of $100,000 of company money for personal use.

Kimberly S. Jensen, 44, was named the chief operating officer for the magazines U.S. News & World Report, Fast Company and the Atlantic Monthly in August. She had been with the Zuckerman organization for 15 years and had helped write the business plan for Fast Company, a four-year-old magazine about Internet businesses. Zuckerman sold the Atlantic Monthly last month for a reported $10 million.

On Nov. 4, Jensen went to a meeting in Zuckerman's New York office of Boston Properties Inc., the real estate company that is the core of his empire, with Zuckerman, the company's general counsel and its chief financial officer. There she was asked to explain financial irregularities in the Atlantic Monthly account that she had controlled, according to Zuckerman.

"She said she could explain it from records in her Boston office the next day," Zuckerman said today. "But she never did."

In fact, after Jensen left the meeting she did not return to her offices in either Boston or New York. She divided her time between Boston, where Fast Company is published; New York, where the administrative offices of U.S. News & World Report are located; and Killington, Vt., where she shared a home with her husband, Stephen Fuchs.

In addition to her work in publishing, Jensen managed several rock-and-roll bands. Much of the missing money had been spent for payments to musicians, compact discs, limousines for the bands, personal credit-card bills and even rent checks, Zuckerman said.

"She was promoted and promoted and promoted," Zuckerman said. "You can imagine how startling all of this was. We had placed a great deal of trust in her. On many levels, it's a tragedy . . . an enormously sad occasion."

The financial problems had originally been pointed out to Thomas Peck, the chief financial officer of the publishing group, by a former employee of the Atlantic Monthly, said Emma Clurman, a spokeswoman for the publications.

At the meeting with Zuckerman and other top officials, Jensen was told she had as much time as necessary to explain the irregularities, Clurman said. Jensen was not suspended or fired and no outside investigators were contacted about the problems, she said.

After the meeting, Jensen did not return to work. Her husband called her offices to say she had been in a car accident and was hospitalized in Newport, R.I. The hospitalization, according to Ocean City police, was really for a suicide attempt in which Jensen had inhaled car-exhaust fumes.

Fuchs reported his wife missing on Nov. 11. Two day later her body was found across the bed in a room at the Ocean City Comfort Inn by a housekeeper. She had a plastic bag over her head and had been dead for at least 24 hours, according to Ocean City detective Paul Marshall.

Jensen was described as a very professional, but very private, person who was devoted to her work with the magazines and her work with bands. She was particularly proud of Fast Forward's national magazine award this year and the fact that the magazine's guaranteed number of subscribers was going from 305,000 to 500,000 in January, Clurman said.

"Kim was a very private person and none of us will ever really know why she took her own life," Ira Ellenthal, chief executive of the magazines said in an e-mail to all publishing group employees on Thursday.

Jensen grew up in Marion, Va., where she attended high school and received a bachelor's degree in accounting from George Mason University, Clurman said. She was also in the master of business administration program at George Mason, although it is unclear whether she received that degree. A university spokesman said the school did not find Jensen on its list of graduates.

A memorial service in New York is planned for Jensen on Nov. 30.

CAPTION: Publishing magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman met with Jensen.