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Rigas appeal denied by Supreme Court

  Breaking Legal News  -   POSTED: 2008/03/03 17:00

Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas and his son, Timothy, lost their final appeal Monday of their convictions for fraud that led to the collapse of the nation's fifth-largest cable television company. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal without comment. The elder Rigas, 83, is serving a 15-year prison term, while his son, the former chief financial officer, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York last year upheld their convictions on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.

Lawyers for the two men argued that fraud charges should be thrown out because accounting terms were not explained to the jury and because the Rigases properly followed accounting rules during transactions that the government said were fraudulent.

Federal investigators began looking at Adelphia after it said in a footnote to a press release in 2002 that the company had approximately $2.2 billion in liabilities not previously reported on its balance sheet.

At trial, prosecutors said the Rigas family used the business for personal expenses, withdrawing millions of dollars to finance everything from 100 pairs of bedroom slippers for Timothy Rigas to more than $3 million to produce a film by John Rigas' daughter, Ellen, to $26 million on 3,600 acres of timberland to preserve the view outside the father's home.

Prosecutors said John Rigas once even spent $6,000 to fly two Christmas trees to New York for his daughter.

Last year, another son, Michael Rigas, was sentenced to 10 months home confinement after pleading guilty to a charge of making a false entry in a company record.

John Rigas, the son of Greek immigrants, created Adelphia from nothing when he bought the rights to wire the town of Coudersport, Pa., for cable television in 1952.

The problems arose after he took Adelphia public in 1986 and the company grew rapidly in the late 1990s.

Adelphia served more than 5 million customers in 31 states. It collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002.

It moved to Greenwood Village, Colo. Comcast Corp. in Philadelphia and Time Warner Cable, a unit of Time Warner Inc., have since bought Adelphia's cable assets.


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