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Michael Rigas fraud case ends in mistrial

/ Source: The Associated Press

The case against former Adelphia Communications Corp. operations chief Michael Rigas ended in a mistrial Friday with jurors deadlocked on 17 counts against him.

The jury had considered 15 counts of securities fraud and two counts of bank fraud against Rigas, 50, the cable company’s former operations chief. They already had cleared him of conspiracy and wire-fraud charges.

The same jury convicted Michael Rigas’ father, Adelphia founder John Rigas, and his brother, Timothy, the former finance chief, of conspiring to hide $2.3 billion in debt at Adelphia and raid its coffers for their personal enrichment.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand dismissed jurors and said a retrial could begin as early as mid-October.

“Your Honor, we tried to no avail,” the jury declared in a note. Replied the judge: “There’s no one who questions for a moment that you tried.”

The jurors left the courthouse together without commenting to reporters.

Michael Rigas had no comment. His lawyer, Andrew Levander, said: “It’s a good result for us. Unfortunately, the government may retry the case.”

The jurors had been sitting for more than four months. The trial included a blizzard of paper evidence, including documents reflecting complex loan arrangements and cable-subscriber statistics.

Adelphia, then based in tiny Coudersport, Pa., collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002 after the company disclosed $2.3 billion in off-balance-sheet debt. It now operates under bankruptcy protection in Greenwood Village, Colo.