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Rigas, Two Sons, Formers Execs Plead Not Guilty

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Michael, John and Tim Rigas

By Mark Scott

New York City, NY – Five former Adelphia Communications executives entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Founder John Rigas, his two sons and two former finance executives were named in a 24 count indictment charging them with bank fraud, securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.

They're accused of what the U.S. attorney's office argues is the "most elaborate and extensive corporate frauds in U.S. history."

Prosecutors say John Rigas, and his sons Timothy and Michael, hid $2.3 billion in debt, looted company funds to pay for personal expenses such as stock purchases and a golf course, and lied to investors about the company's financial health.

Adelphia was forced to declare bankruptcy in June, about a month after John Rigas and his sons resigned their company positions.

"These have not been easy days for John Rigas," Peter Fleming, an attorney for Adelphia's former chief executive, said outside the US courthouse in Manhattan. "There is a massive and major public misperception of the activity of John and his sons in connection with Adelphia."

A trial date has not been set. The Rigases could be sentenced to up to 30 years in jail if convicted.