At Rigas Trial, Prosecution Keys on Greed

Federal prosecutors shifted their focus away from arcane financial documents and concentrated on plain old greed in the fraud trial of four former Adelphia Communications Corp. executives last week.

Former Adelphia chairman John Rigas; his sons, former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy Rigas and former executive vice president of operations Michael Rigas; and former director of internal reporting Michael Mulcahey are on trial for 24 counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and securities fraud. All four men have pleaded innocent.

Former Adelphia vice president of finance operations and administration LeMoyne Zacherl testified last Monday that John Rigas regularly wired money from Adelphia corporate coffers into his personal bank accounts, despite Zacherl’s effort to stop it.

Zacherl worked at Adelphia from 1993 to 1995, periods that are not included in the federal indictments. But prosecutors contended his testimony would help establish a continuing pattern of fraud by Adelphia’s top managers.

And Charles Raptis, a distant cousin of John Rigas and his former assistant, outlined several instances where the Rigases used Adelphia money for personal gain.

Adelphia funds were used regularly to purchase personal vehicles, pay church dues and hire a personal trainer for the Rigases, Raptis testified.

In 2002, shortly after the Rigases resigned from Adelphia, Raptis said the Rigases surrendered 17 of those cars, but that he had to threaten John Rigas with possible police action to get the remaining vehicles back.