Accounting & Tax

Probation for Adelphia’s Michael Rigas

He seems to be a good person who ''found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time,'' says the sentencing judge. Also: Royal Ahold trial under w...
Stephen TaubMarch 6, 2006

Michael Rigas, a son of Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas, avoided prison time when he was sentenced last Friday in connection with the cable company’s accounting scandal.

The former chief operating officer of the bankrupt cable operator, was sentenced to 10 months of home confinement and two years of probation after pleading guilty last year to one count of making a false entry in a financial record, according to published accounts.

“I’m relieved it’s over and glad to move on with my life,” said Rigas afterward, according to Reuters. In November, noted the wire service, he was offered a deal to plead guilty to the reduced charge after a jury had deadlocked in his 2004 trial on conspiracy and multiple counts of fraud.

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Prior to the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said that Rigas seemed to be a good person “who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time” and was “on a totally different footing” from his father and his brother Timothy, according to the wire service. Last summer, John Rigas was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and Timothy Rigas, to 20 years; they remain free on bail, pending their appeals.

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, criminal proceedings began in the trial of four individuals connected to one of Europe’s largest financial scandals, at Royal Ahold NV.

On trial are former chief executive officer Cees van der Hoeven; former chief financial officer Michiel Meurs; Roland Fahlin, a former Ahold board member who was chairman of the company’s bookkeeping committee; and Jan Andreae, the company’s former manager for European activities.

They are accused of improperly booking sales from four Ahold subsidiaries in Scandinavia and Latin America, according to the Associated Press.

The suspects “committed perjury…because in the letters they agreed with the joint venture partners that, contrary to the truth, Ahold would present itself as having control,” prosecutor Anita van Dis reportedly said in opening remarks.

Van der Hoeven had an intriguing, introspective comment for reporters outside the courtroom: “It’s clear to me that a lot of things went wrong in the last year I was at Ahold, but I always acted honorably. I’m here to take responsibility for my actions in public, and we’ll see what the result is.”