Risk Management

Rigas Inmates Get a Shave: Three Years Off Terms

Reversal of one Adelphia bank-fraud count shortens founder John Rigas's term to 12 years, while son Timothy, the ex-CFO, now will serve 17.
Stephen TaubJune 25, 2008

Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas and son Timothy, Adelphia’s fomer CFO, had their prison terms trimmed by three years in a resentencing that came after their convictions for roles in the company’s massive fraud.

John Rigas, the 83-year-old former chairman of the cable company, along with his 52-year-old son, the CFO, had originally been sentenced to 15 and 20 years in prison, respectively, but will now serve 12 and 17 years. They were found guilty after a five-month trial in 2004.

On May 24, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the two individuals’ convictions on all counts, except one count of bank fraud, and directed that the defendants be re-sentenced. Earlier this year the Supreme Court, without comment, denied their appeal, which was their last legal attempt to overturn their fraud convictions.

In reducing the father-and-son sentences, Judge Leonard Sand indicated that “a minimal adjustment is appropriate” in light of the reversal of one of the bank fraud convictions, according to a press release from Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Garcia reported that the judge’s ruling “in no meaningful way altered the seriousness of defendants’ crimes, nor the suffering which their conduct inflicted on so many people.”

Adelphia began its nosedive into bankruptcy when it disclosed that the Rigases owed $2.3 billion in off-balance-sheet debt on bank loans taken jointly with the company, according to an earlier Bloomberg News report. In their appeal, the Rigases argued that jurors should have heard from an accounting expert about the loans.

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

When John Rigas was originally sentenced, he told Judge Sand: “If I did anything wrong, I apologize. 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.”