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Rigases Sentenced to Prison in Adelphia Fraud Case

By Mark Scott

New York City, NY – Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas and his son Timothy were sentenced Monday for their roles in the financial scandal that bankrupted the cable company.

John Rigas was sentenced to 15 years in prison. US District Court Judge Leonard Sand said he would have imposed a much harsher sentence but for Rigas' age -- 80 -- and poor health. Timothy Rigas, the company's former chief financial officer, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The pair was found guilty last year of bank fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy. Michael Anderson of the Wellsville Daily Reporter was in the courtroom Monday when the sentences were pronounced. Anderson said John Rigas was contrite but still believes he did nothing wrong.

"John Rigas said he made mistakes. He does apologize to his shareholders and people who lost money," Anderson said. "He said he would have done things differently, but that he was always looking out for the best interest of the company."

University at Buffalo Law Professor David Westbrook, who specializes in corporate law, says he's not at all surprised at Rigas' stance. He said John Rigas continued to view Adelphia as his own even though it went public years ago.

"If the founder remains in the most powerful position, as was the case with John Rigas, it becomes very difficult for the corporate culture to acknowledge that it is now a public company," Westbrook said. "I think that is what happened here."

Judge Sand ordered the Rigases to surrender to federal prison authorities on September 19th.

Timothy Rigas' attorneys will seek to have him placed at a minimum security federal prison near their home in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Attorneys for John Rigas want him sent to a federal medical facility in Rochester, Minnesota, near where he has been treated for bladder cancer.