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Adelphia founder to report to prison in Aug.

Adelphia cable TV company founder John Rigas and his son, Timothy J. Rigas, were ordered Wednesday to report to prison on Aug. 13 for their fraud convictions.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Adelphia cable TV company founder John Rigas and his son, Timothy J. Rigas, to report to prison on Aug. 13, nearly three years after they were convicted in one of the largest corporate frauds in U.S. history.

Both men had been free while appealing their sentences, but Judge Leonard Sand said the time had come for the two to start paying their debt to society. “Too much time has elapsed,” he said.

In May, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld the convictions of the 82-year-old Rigas and his 51-year-old son on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.

John Rigas was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and Timothy Rigas, the company’s former chief financial officer, was sentenced to 20 years. The sentencing judge, citing the elder Rigas’ poor health, said the term might be cut short if he serves at least two years.

At trial, prosecutors said the Rigas family used the company as their personal piggy bank, 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. Prosecutors said John Rigas once even spent $6,000 to fly two Christmas trees to New York.

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

After years of fighting the case, the Rigas family is essentially out of options. They have asked the appeals court to reconsider the case, and also plan to ask the Supreme Court to intervene, but such requests are rarely granted.

Both men declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

Adelphia Communications Corp. was the country’s fifth-largest cable television company serving more than 5 million customers in 31 states. It collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002 after the company disclosed $2.3 billion in off-balance-sheet debt.

Comcast Corp. in Philadelphia and Time Warner Cable, a unit of Time Warner Inc., have since bought Adelphia’s cable assets.