Risk & Compliance

Rigas Pair Receive Stiff Sentences

John Rigas, the 80-year-old founder of Adelphia, will serve 15 years in prison; his son Timothy, the former CFO, will serve 20.
Stephen TaubJune 20, 2005

Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas and his son, former chief financial officer Timothy Rigas, received lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the massive fraud that bankrupted the cable company and became one of the more infamous corporate scandals of recent years.

The 15-year sentence handed down to the 80-year-old elder Rigas all but guarantees that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, press reports noted. Timothy Rigas was sentenced to 20 years.

“If I did anything wrong, I apologize,” said John Rigas in court, according to Bloomberg. “I did the best I can to correct it. If that means I have to go to prison, it’s not where I ever expected to be in my life. Nor do I believe it’s where I should be because of what happened. It’s in your hands, and in God’s hands.” His lawyers argued that he should be spared prison given his bladder cancer and his 1999 triple-bypass heart surgery.

The Associated Press reported, however, that U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand told Rigas: “Were it not for your age and health, I would impose a sentence far greater than I do today.”

Sand said that if, after Rigas has served two years, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons concludes that he has less than three months to live, it can ask for a modification of his sentence, according to Bloomberg. “One shrinks from, no matter how horrendous the crime, the prospect of someone dying in a prison hospital,” the judge said.

Rigas and his son faced up to 215 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, according to the wire service, and they each faced up to 30 years in prison for their bank fraud convictions, AP reported. They were also convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy.

Three ex-corporate chieftains very likely to be watching the sentencings closely were WorldCom Inc.’s Bernard Ebbers and Tyco International Ltd.’s L. Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, who were recently convicted for their roles in the scandals at their respective companies and are now awaiting their own sentencings.

Meanwhile, jurors have deliberated for 16 days to decide the fate of former HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy. The jury took an unscheduled day off on Monday because one of the jurors had an unexpected conflicting emergency responsibility, according to a separate AP story.