Former Adelphia Communications chairman John Rigas and his son, former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy Rigas, reported to Butner Federal Prison in North Carolina last Monday, more than two years after their sentencing and three years after their convictions on federal fraud and conspiracy charges.
The Rigases were convicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy in July 2004, stemming from the massive accounting scandal at Adelphia that led to the cable company's bankruptcy and ultimate sale.
The Rigases, who have maintained their innocence all along, had been released on their own recognizance pending appeal. Their appeal in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan was rejected in May.
SAND SAID IT'S TIME
Although the Rigases have said they plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand, who sentenced the two in June 2005 to 15 years and 20 years, respectively, said in July that it was time for the two to begin paying their debt to society.
It had been expected that John Rigas, who has bladder cancer, would be sent to federal prison in Rochester, Minn., near the Mayo Clinic health-care facility where he has been a patient. Tim Rigas, who had requested to be sent to the same prison as his father, was expected to be sent to the Federal Correctional Institute in Elkton, Ohio, about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Pa., according to some published reports. However, U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mike Truman said those two facilities were not considered for the Rigases.
“That is where they're designated to,” Truman said of Butner, adding that facility designation is usually made on the day prospective inmates report to prison. “It doesn't mean that in a couple of months or a year from now they couldn't be moved someplace else, but this is where we have them.”
Truman said that the ultimate housing of inmates is based on bed availability, whatever programs — like medical care — that an inmate would need and that the Bureau also tries to locate inmates within a 500-mile radius of their homes.
The Rigases had first requested they be sent to a federal lockup near their Coudersport, Pa., home, possibly McKean County Federal Correctional Institution in Bradford, Pa.
Butner is one of seven federal prisons that house a federal medical center — Rochester; Springfield, Mo.; Lexington, Ky.; Carswell, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Devens, Mass. are the others.
HOUSED IN DORMS
Truman said that the Rigases are housed in one of eight dormitories at Butner — basically an open bay with rows of bunk beds and half-walls for some privacy. Each inmate also has access to a desk and a locker.
Butner had about 1,295 inmates as of Aug. 9, which means each dormitory would house about 162 prisoners.
All inmates are required to work at the facility, unless they are exempt for medical or security reasons, which should allow John Rigas to avoid a regular work detail. Work details are the same throughout the federal prison system — buffing and polishing floors; cleaning showers, toilets and sinks; preparing meals; cleaning up in the dining room; scraping dirty dishes; plumbing and painting work and groundskeeping. Inmates are required to work 7.5 hours a day and are paid between 12 cents and 40 cents per hour, Truman said.