Michael Rigas Faces Retrial

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand rejected arguments from attorneys for former Adelphia Communications Corp. executive Michael Rigas to dismiss the federal charges against him, paving the way for a second trial.

Michael Rigas was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy and five counts of wire fraud after a five-month trial that ended in July. But the jury could not reach a decision on two counts of bank fraud and 15 counts of securities fraud levied against the former executive vice president of operations.

At an Oct. 26 hearing, Sand agreed to drop the bank-fraud charges against Michael Rigas.

According to Bloomberg News, members of the jury interviewed after the July trial said they were 9-3 in favor of acquitting Michael Rigas.

Michael Rigas’ lawyers had objected to a retrial, claiming that since he was found not guilty of the conspiracy charge, he could not be found guilty of the securities fraud.

Sand, in a decision issued Nov. 1, rejected that claim, adding that Michael Rigas could have signed false financial documents and disclosures without participating in the conspiracy of his father, former Adelphia chairman John Rigas, and his brother, former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy Rigas.

John and Timothy Rigas were found guilty of 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy in July. Attorneys for John and Tim Rigas have moved to have those convictions overturned. Pending a decision from Sand, their sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 5.

No date has been set for Michael Rigas’ retrial. However, he may have to face a new jury with a new lawyer. At an Oct. 26 hearing, Michael Rigas’ attorney, Andrew Levander, said it would be unlikely that he would be able to represent his client in another trial due to other commitments.

In the first trial, Levander had painted Michael Rigas as a not particularly bright executive who was focused on operations, who did not spend company money on himself and who was not a participant in the conspiracy of his brother and father.

The Rigases were accused of looting hundreds of millions of dollars from Adelphia for their personal use.

Federal prosecutors claimed that Michael Rigas was an integral part of the fraud, signing documents related to bank covenants and press releases with faulty subscriber numbers that he knew were false.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the Michael Rigas retrial.