A U.S. District Court Judge shot down an attempt by former Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas to get a new trial, stating that their claim that a key witness for the prosecution lied on the stand was unfounded.
Former Adelphia founder and chairman John Rigas and his son former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy Rigas were convicted on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy in 2004 stemming from the massive accounting scandal at the cable company. John Rigas was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Timothy to 20 years in 2005. They began serving their terms in a federal correctional facility in North Carolina in August.
After an appeal of that conviction was denied in May, the Rigases attempted to have their convictions thrown out and win a new trial when they claimed that former Adelphia vice president of finance James Brown – a key prosecution witness – lied on the stand. Attorneys for the Rigases pointed to testimony Brown gave in a civil trial months after the Rigases criminal trial, where he appeared to perjure himself.
The Rigases also petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in October to hear the case. The court has not yet responded as to whether it will hear that appeal.
According to the Rigases’ attorneys, Brown denied that he lied to Adelphia’s auditor Deloitte & Touche concerning specific matters according to testimony he gave at the civil trial. At that criminal trial, the Rigases claimed that Brown said he had lied on several occasions to the auditors.
That appeared to be the difference. In an 11-page decision issued Nov. 20, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand – who also presided over the Rigases criminal trial – said that while Brown denied lying to auditors in the civil case regarding specific matters, his testimony during the criminal trial was more broad.
“Never at trial did Brown assert that he had deliberately, affirmatively lied to the auditors on every matter,” Sand wrote.
Sand added that considering the disputed testimony in its entirety, “the jury’s verdict would not have been different had it considered the allegedly conflicting testimony.”
In a statement, James Rigas – a former Adelphia executive who was not indicted and the son of John Rigas – vowed to continue the fight.
“The Rigas family is extremely disappointed that this decision was made without Judge Sand even holding a hearing on the issue, but the family continues to believe that the legal system as a whole will recognize and be troubled by the blatant lies told by Jim Brown, the government’s main witness,” James Rigas said in the statement. “We therefore intend to immediately appeal this issue to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. It is inconceivable to us that our system of justice will allow a conviction to stand when the main government witness lied on all of the major issues.