Where the Rigases Might Spend Time


Barring any unforeseen circumstances or unexpected appeals victories, former Adelphia Communications Corp. executives John and Timothy Rigas could be spending the next 15 to 20 years as guests of the federal government. The question that remains: Where will they spend that time?

John Rigas was sentenced June 20 to 15 years in prison as a result of his conviction on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy related to his participation in a widespread accounting scandal that sent Adelphia into bankruptcy in 2002. Tim Rigas, Adelphia's former chief financial officer, was sentenced to 20 years for the same 18 counts.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand has allowed the Rigases to remain free while they appeal their conviction. They had been scheduled to report to jail on Sept.19. Lawyers for John Rigas have requested that he be incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., because of his ongoing health problems. Rigas has been treated for bladder cancer and heart problems at the nearby Mayo Clinic.

Lawyers for Tim Rigas have requested that he be placed in the McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Bradford, Pa., close to his family's Coudersport, Pa., home.

Lawyers for both Rigases could not be reached for comment.

Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mike Truman said that the agency does consider geographic locations when selecting a facility for inmates, but that is not guaranteed.

“We try to place inmates as close as we can to keep with community and family ties,” Truman said. “At the same time, if there is no bed space available, then we try to get as close as possible at a secure level that is appropriate for the inmate.” He added that inmates with legitimate medical problems are usually placed in Federal Medical Centers.

Aside from the Rochester FMC, the Bureau of Prisons has six other medical centers –— the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.; Lexington FMC in Lexington, Ky.; Carswell FMC in Carswell. Texas; Fort Worth FMC in Fort Worth, Texas; Butner FMC in Butner, N.C.; and the Devens FMC in Devens, Mass.

Wherever the Rigases end up, it will most likely be in a minimum- or low-security facility, probably in the Northeast region of the country. If the McKean Federal Correctional Institution is out, Tim Rigas has several other options in the immediate area, including FCI's in Allenwood, Pa.; Loretto, Pa.; Otisville, N.Y.; and Minersville, Pa.

Both Rigases will spend most of their days working — work is mandatory at most federal facilities unless the inmate has a note from a doctor that states he is physically unable to. And the work won't be anything like what the Rigases are used to.

Truman said that most inmates usually start out in food services, although they can also work as an orderly (mopping, scrubbing, buffing and waxing floors), as painters, plumbers or working in the prison laundry.

But Rigas will have to do that work for a pittance. Pay rates for federal prisoners range from 12 cents to 40 cents per hour.

Since both Rigases are college graduates — Tim has an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and John graduated with a management engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — they might be able to use some of those skills to help their fellow inmates.

Several federal facilities let inmates tutor each other – one even allows inmate tutoring in minor financial matters like balancing a checkbook — but the nature of the inmate's offense weighs heavily in what subjects they are allowed to tutor.

So it is unlikely that Tim Rigas, who was accused of keeping two sets of Adelphia books, will be able to pass on that knowledge to other prisoners.

Tim Rigas's longtime love of golf — at trial, he was accused of using company money to pay for several country-club memberships and to build a golf course in his hometown — could be put to some use at FCI Eglin in Fort Walton Beach,. Fla. Eglin has among its amenities an 18-hole golf course, which some inmates are allowed to maintain. However, they are not allowed to play the course.

“I don't think he'd be caddying for anybody,” Truman said of Rigas.

Here are some more details on low- and medium-security federal institutions that could be the Rigases' next home.

McKean County Federal Correctional Institution

This facility, located just 42 miles from Coudersport, was Tim Rigas's first choice because of its proximity to the family homestead. Prisoners in the 300-bed minimum security camp are housed in 2-person cubicles.

Location: Bradford, Pa.

Population: 1,200-bed medium security facility; 300-bed minimum-security work camp.

Recreation: Softball field, soccer, basketball, board games (chess, checkers), aerobics classes, hobby and craft classes (ceramics).

Vocational training: Inmates can earn certificates after completing necessary course work in culinary arts, horticulture, building trades, barber shop.

Work: Food services, orderlies, landscaping, laundry, maintenance, tutoring. McKean also has a furniture factory on site where inmates can make laminated furniture parts. Inmates usually work 7 hours to 7.5 hours five days per week. Pay rates are between 12 cents and 40 cents per hour.

Famous Inmates: Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain (released 2003).

FCI Otisville

Opened in 1980, Otisville was designed primarily to accommodate Orthodox Jewish inmates, although it is not officially designated as such. With a Kosher kitchen and weekly Shabbat services, Jewish inmates across the country are flown to Otisville during Passover for seder. Prisoners are housed in two-man cubicles.

Location: Otisville, N.Y. (70 miles northwest of NYC)

Population: 1,081 in medium-security facility, 128 in minimum security camp.

Recreation: No athletics, but walking, card games and board games are available.

Famous Inmates: Sam Waksal, former CEO of ImClone; Martin Frankel, Connecticut financier responsible for one of the largest insurance frauds in U.S. history.

FCI Allenwood

Allenwood is the place where most New York City inmates are housed because it is so close to the city. But despite its fame – it has housed several reputed mob members – Allenwood is far from the country club it once was. While inmates in the past had been able to have food from the outside sent in, public outrage forced the facility to overhaul its operations which are much more austere today.

Location: White Deer, Pa.

Population: 584

Amenities: Prisoners bunk in 80-person dorms, with two inmates to a cubicle.

Recreation: Softball, basketball, weight machines, stationary bicycles, soccer, flag football, pool and ping pong tables.

Work: Vocational training in horticulture.

Special programs: Music program that provides instruments and inmate-led instruction.

Famous Inmates: Former Rite-Aid Corp. chief financial officer Frank Bergonzi.

FCI Loretto

The site of a former Roman Catholic seminary and nestled in the rolling hills of rural Pennsylvania, Loretto has spectacular views of the Allegheny Mountains. Inmates at the minimum-security satellite camp sleep in cubicles that house four people. There is no barbed wire or fences at the camp and prisoners are allowed to walk freely around the campus.

Location: Loretto, Pa.

Population: 1,300 inmates in low security facility, 140 inmates in minimum security satellite camp

Recreation: Outdoor walking track, indoor gymnasium, weight room, treadmills, stationary bicycles.

Work: Inmates are required to work 7.5 hours per day for between 12 cents and 40 cents per hour. Work is mandatory and includes food services, plumbing, painting and cleaning toilets.

Famous Inmates: Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland

FCI Schuylkill

Located atop an anthracite mountain in the heart of Pennsylvania coal country, Schuylkill has no barbed wire or fences at its minimum security camp. Inmates at the camp are housed in cubicles that sleep two each.

Location: Minersville, Pa.

Population: 1,288 in medium-security facility, 316 in minimum security satellite camp.

Recreation: Softball/soccer field, horseshoes, weights, gymnasium, aerobics, hobby crafts (leather working, painting), pool tables and jogging track.

Work: Food services, laundry, landscaping, janitorial work. Medium security prison has an upholstery factory where prsoners makes chairs for sale to the federal government. Minimum security camp has Fedfast shipping service, which ships chairs and other office equipment to federal facilities within 48 hours.

Famous Inmates: Former Rite-Aid Corp. vice chairman Franklin Brown.

Federal Medical Center Rochester

FMC Rochester was opened in 1985 and provides necessary medical, dental and mental health services to prisoners in the federal prison system. Located near the Mayo Clinic, FMC Rochester has in-patient and out-patient facilities and a low security work cadre; well prisoners are housed in a separate dormitory.

Location: Rochester, Minn.

Population: 889

Amenities: Semi-private and some private rooms in the in-patient and out-patient areas; work cadre is housed in open bay dormitory area divided into cubicles that sleep eight, four and two inmates.

Work: Food services, unit orderlies, apprenticeship program for electrician, plumber and HVAC work; mental health and medical companion; recreation department, education department.

Recreation: Basketball, softball, walking track, weights, hobby crafts (pottery, leather crafts).

Famous Inmates: Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio); former Sotheby's chairman A. Alfred Taubman (released in 2003); perennial third-party presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche (released 1994); former U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (released 1997).