Cable Operators

Adelphia Verdicts: Mixed Bag

7/08/2004 8:43 AM Eastern

New York -- Jurors in the federal fraud trial of four former Adelphia Communications Corp. executives reached a partial verdict Thursday, finding former chairman John Rigas and his son, former chief financial officer Timothy Rigas, guilty on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Former assistant treasurer Michael Mulcahey, the only defendant to testify, was found not guilty on all counts.

Jurors were less certain regarding the fate of former Adelphia executive vice president of operations Michael Rigas, finding him not guilty of five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy but undecided on the other 17 counts of the indictment.

The partial verdict marked an end to a nearly two-year odyssey for the Rigases, starting with their indictment on conspiracy, securities-fraud, wire-fraud and bank-fraud charges in September 2002.

The Rigases were accused of using hundreds of millions of dollars of Adelphia funds for their own personal use and for taking out $2.3 billion in loans -- which the company was liable for -- to buy Adelphia stock.

Through the course of the trial, which started March 1, prosecutors had painted a picture of runaway greed on behalf of the Rigases, whom they claimed used Adelphia as their personal ATM and piggy-bank.

Mulcahey -- who, as assistant treasurer, signed off on many of the transactions the government claims were illegal -- was nicknamed Mike “OK to Pay” Mulcahey for how he almost cavalierly approved the transactions.

Defense attorneys stuck to a strategy that the Rigases had intended to repay the loans and that they had the wherewithal to do it before Adelphia was plunged into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2002.

But at the end of the day, it didn’t appear to be enough. Jurors appeared to have little problem finding John and Tim Rigas guilty of one count of conspiracy, 15 counts of securities fraud and two counts of bank fraud. All of the defendants were found not guilty of five counts of wire fraud.

Although sentencing has not yet been set, the bank-fraud charges have the longest potential terms -- up to 30 years.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand instructed the jurors to return Friday morning to reach a verdict on the remaining counts against Michael Rigas.

Michael Rigas declined comment. His lawyer, Andrew Levander, said: “It’s a bittersweet day and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

John Rigas and his lawyer, Peter Fleming, declined comment.

Timothy Rigas also declined to comment, but his lawyer, Paul Grand, hinted at an appeal. “We hope we get a better result in the other court,” Grand said.

Mark Mahoney, the attorney for Mulcahey, was in obviously good spirits, but he expressed concern for the Rigases.

“This is wonderful for my client, but it is sort of bittersweet because of the convictions of the others,” Mahoney said. “For [Mulcahey], I couldn’t be happier.”

Mahoney said during an interview with reporters that the facts that Mulcahey testified in his own defense and had little motive to violate the law might have swayed the jury his way.

“He testified and the jury got a chance to size him up,” Mahoney added.

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