Former Adelphia Communications chairman John Rigas was released from prison Monday, returning to his adopted hometown of Coudersport, Pa., to a throng of supporters who shouted words of encouragement to the 91-year-old former cable executive.
Rigas and his son Timothy (Adelphia’s former chief financial officer) were tried and convicted on several counts of fraud and conspiracy in 2004. John Rigas was serving a 12-year term (he wasn’t scheduled to get out until January 2018) but received a “compassionate release” and had his sentence commuted to time served by U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood on Feb. 19 after it was determined he has six months or less to live. Rigas, who has maintained his innocence throughout the past decade, was recently diagnosed with Stage IV bladder cancer that has spread to his lungs.
According to a report in the Buffalo News, Rigas was released from the Canaan federal penitentiary in Waymart, Pa. (where his son Timothy is serving out his 17-year sentence), at about noon on Monday. A crowd of about 100 town residents gathered at the Potter County courthouse with placards wishing the former Adelphia chairman well as he made his way back into town in an SUV driven by his son Michael, the newspaper said.
According to the newspaper report of the homecoming, a frail Rigas stepped out of the car to thank the residents, waved, blew kisses and flashed the “V” for victory sign.
Rigas, who was born in nearby Wellsville, N.Y., adopted Coudersport in 1951 after buying the local movie theater. He formed Adelphia in Coudersport in 1952. More photos of his homecoming can be found at this buffalonews.com link.