Rigases Lose Appeals Bid

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Former Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas lost the appeals to their July 2004 conviction on federal conspiracy and fraud charges and moved another step closer to serving their prison terms.

The Rigases were convicted in federal court in Manhattan in 2004 on 18 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and bank fraud, stemming from the massive accounting scandal that bankrupted the cable company. John Rigas, the founder and former chairman of Adelphia, was sentenced in June 2005 to 15 years in prison. His son, Timothy, was Adelphia’s chief financial officer and has been sentenced to a 20-year prison term.

Another son, former Adelphia executive vice president of operations Michael Rigas, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of signing a false statement in March 2006 after his earlier trial on 15 counts of securities fraud ended in a mistrial. Michael Rigas was sentenced to two years’ probation, including 10 months of house arrest, and a $2,000 fine. Former Adelphia assistant treasurer Michael Mulcahey was acquitted of all charges.

John and Tim Rigas have been out on bail for nearly three years after first being convicted of looting Adelphia for their own personal gain. But bail soon could be revoked by a federal judge.

Adelphia’s cable assets were sold to Time Warner and Comcast last year for $17.6 billion. The Rigases received none of those proceeds.

The Rigases could still request that the full panel of appeals court judges review the case and could technically take their argument to the Supreme Court. However, those appeals are usually denied.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office did not return a phone call for comment. John Rigas’s attorney also did not return calls for comment.

In its 55-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected the Rigases claims that federal prosecutors erred in not calling expert accounting witnesses to explain the complicated financial issues surrounding their first trial. The Rigases also failed to prove that improperly admitted evidence affected the July 2004 jury verdict.

The Rigases legal problems are not over yet. Their trial on federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges is set to start Oct. 3 in Williamsport, Penn.

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