Former Adelphia Communications Corp. executive vice president of operations Michael Rigas, awaiting a retrial on fraud charges, has turned to Buffalo, N.Y., attorney Mark Mahoney, who was able to secure an acquittal for former Adelphia assistant treasurer and co-defendant Michael Mulcahey.
Rigas was charged with conspiracy and fraud in 2002 stemming from the massive accounting scandal that forced Adelphia into bankruptcy that year. While the jury found him not guilty of one count of conspiracy and five counts of wire fraud, its members deadlocked on 15 counts of securities fraud and two counts of bank fraud. The bank fraud charges were later dropped.
Rigas’s brother, former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy Rigas, and his father, former Adelphia chairman John Rigas, weren’t so lucky. Tim and John Rigas were convicted on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy in July. They were sentenced to 20 years and 15 years in prison, respectively.
Both Tim and John Rigas are free as they prepare their appeals.
Michael Rigas was represented by Andrew Levander in his first trial. Levander said after the mistrial was declared that he had prior commitments that would likely prevent him from representing Rigas in his retrial.
Also on Rigas’s defense team are Kevin O’Connor of Swidler, Berlin, Shereff and Friedman; Roger Crane of Nixon Peabody and Martine Beaman of Davis, Polk & Wardwell.
In the first trial, Levander painted Michael Rigas as a not particularly bright executive who was focused on operations, who did not spend company money on himself and who was not a participant in the conspiracy of his brother and father.
The Rigases were accused of looting hundreds of millions of dollars from Adelphia for their personal use.
Federal prosecutors claimed that Michael Rigas was an integral part of the fraud, signing documents related to bank covenants and press releases with faulty subscriber numbers that he knew were false.
Mahoney got off to a shaky start in his defense of Mulcahey but rallied toward the end of the marathon trial. In his closing statement, he called the government’s prosecution of the Rigases and Mulcahey “Rigas-cide.”
Mike Rigas is scheduled to be retried by the government starting on Oct. 24 before U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff.