Adelphia Trial: Witness Lists Rigas Purchases

22 March 2004

A Colorado condominium, naming rights at a university, 100 pairs of slippers, a beauty consultation and the CDs Hit Parade 1942 and Hit Parade 1943.

Such extravagances are just some of the personal uses to which the Rigas family put the money of US cable operator Adelphia Communications, a court heard last week.

John Rigas (founder and former chairman of Adelphia), his sons Timothy and Michael, and one-time executive Michael Mulcahey stand accused of using the public company as a "personal piggybank". Prosecutors last week began to build their case, calling former Adelphia manager Linda Pekarski as a witness.

Pekarski testified that Adelphia made at least one payment of $100,000 (€81,052; £54,595) towards the Rigas Family Theater at New York's St Bonaventure University. An unsigned letter from October 1999, shown to the court by prosecutors, promised $1 million for the project. This letter was printed on Adelphia paper and indicated that copies had been sent to John and Timothy Rigas as well as Mulcahey.

In addition, Pekarski claimed that Michael Rigas approved a $100,000 payment to the university for "support of the basketball program" in February 2001.

According to the testimony, St Bonaventure was not the only recipient of Adelphia cash. Pekarski added that Timothy Rigas approved monthly payments of $17,682.54 to cover a mortgage on his condominium in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

And, she continued, Adelphia covered Rigas family credit card bills, including CDs and a $3,000 beauty appointment for John, plus a bulk order of bedroom slippers for Timothy.

The defendants insist they are innocent, claiming the company's auditors, directors and lawyers approved loans to the family.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff