Rigas Sentencing: Jan. 5

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand set a Jan. 5 sentencing date for former Adelphia Communications Corp. chairman John Rigas and his son, former chief financial officer Timothy Rigas, but he continues to deliberate over whether he should throw their convictions out all together.

Lawyers for John and Timothy Rigas presented motions to dismiss their clients’ convictions or grant them new trials at a hearing in Manhattan Tuesday, arguing that the evidence presented at the five-month trial did not prove that either man was directly involved in any conspiracy.

John and Timothy Rigas were found guilty of 18 counts of securities fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy in July. A third Rigas son, former executive vice president of operations Michael Rigas, was acquitted of wire-fraud and conspiracy charges, but the jury could not reach a decision regarding the securities and bank-fraud counts.

While the government agreed to drop the bank-fraud charges against Michael Rigas, they still wish to retry the former Adelphia executive on the securities-fraud counts.

Michael Rigas’ lawyer, Andrew Levander, argued at the Tuesday hearing that by acquitting his client of the conspiracy charge, Michael Rigas could not have participated in the securities fraud.

Attorney’s for John and Timothy Rigas argued for acquittals or new trials based on technicalities.

John Rigas’ attorney, Peter Fleming, objected to the prosecution’s use of evidence that he said pointed to other acts outside of the scope of the government’s indictment, including spending $6,000 to fly Christmas trees to his daughter’s New York apartment.

“That may be inappropriate conduct under state law, but it does not establish a federal crime,” Fleming said.

Fleming added that outside of evidence that John Rigas used Adelphia funds for his own personal benefit, the government did not prove that he manipulated the MSO’s subscriber numbers, falsified 10-K annual reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission or manipulated balance-sheet figures in loan agreements to obtain a more favorable interest rate.

“A judgment of acquittal should be entered,” Fleming said. “At the very least, John Rigas is entitled to a new trial.”

Sand said he would rule on those motions later.