Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Government withdraws tax charges against Adelphia founder John Rigas
After more than six years in federal court, the government has withdrawn tax evasion charges against John Rigas and his son, former leaders of Adelphia Cable Communications.
John Rigas, Adelphia’s founder and CEO, and his son Timothy, who served as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, were convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud and bank fraud in 2004, two years after the company revealed $2.3 billion in off-the-books debt and spiraled into bankruptcy.
The Coudersport-based company was the fifth-largest cable TV operator in the United States at the time. It was subsequently split up and sold to Time Warner and Comcast.
Three months after the conviction, the government filed tax charges against the Rigases in Williamsport.
Wednesday afternoon, those charges were withdrawn.
Prosecutors say they determined it wasn’t worth pursuing the case because it was unlikely the Rigases would get substantial additional prison time, and it would be difficult to collect restitution.
Rigas, now 87, has seven more years to serve on a 12-year prison sentence; his son Timothy, age 55, isn’t expected to be released until 2022.
Because the court recently dismissed the conspiracy charge in the case, restitution could only be sought after the two are released.
Prosecutors say the IRS has “other available remedies” to collect the allegedly unpaid taxes and further prosecution would not be “a prudent expenditure” of limited resources.
Larry McMichael, attorney for the Rigases, said "This case never should have been brought" against his clients.
More importantly, he said, evidence revealed in subsequent civil proceedings suggests "The government should go back and reevaluate what happened in the first trial."
In 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in that case.
The Rigases are serving their sentences in the Allenwood federal prison, Union County.