Former Adelphia Communications Corp. executive vice president of operations Michael Rigas pleaded guilty to one count of making a false entry in the MSO’s records in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, avoiding a possibly lengthy re-trial.
Michael Rigas was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy and five counts of wire fraud in July 2004, but the jury deadlocked on 15 counts of securities fraud. Rigas was set to be retried on the securities fraud charges in January.
By pleading guilty to the charge of making a false entry – Rigas admitted to signing off on a Form 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in December 1999 that falsely stated he had conducted an inquiry into the source of funds used for the purchase of Adelphia shares – Michael Rigas avoids a possible lengthy jail term. According to published reports, making a false entry carries a possible prison term of up to three years. But because of the plea agreement, Rigas is likely to face six months to one year in prison. Sentencing is set for March 3. The securities fraud charges carried possible 10-year prison terms for each count.
The 13D filing was made in connection with the purchase of $1.7 million in Adelphia stock by the Rigas family. Michael Rigas had said in the filing that the source of the funds for the purchase were personal, when it was actually Adelphia money used for the transaction.
Former Adelphia chairman John Rigas and former chief financial officer Timothy Rigas (Michael Rigas’ father and brother), were convicted in July 2004 on 18 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and bank fraud. John and Timothy Rigas were sentenced to 15 years and 20 years in prison, respectively, last June. They are appealing their sentences.
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