Adelphia's John Rigas and son report to prison in N.C.

Convicted in one of the nation's largest corporate fraud cases, former Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas reported Monday to a federal prison in North Carolina.

Adelphia founder John Rigas and his son Timothy, the company's former chief financial officer, were convicted in 2004 on multiple charges of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud, but had remained free while their appeals navigated the courts system.

In June, U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand rescinded the order allowing them to remain free, giving the father and son until Aug. 13 to report to prison. John Rigas, 82, was sentenced to 15 years and Timothy Rigas, 51, to 20 years for their role in the collapse of one of the nation's largest cable television companies.

The pair had asked that they be allowed to serve their time together at a facility close to their homes in Coudersport, Pa., where Adelphia was based. Instead, the federal Bureau of Prisons sent them to the Butner Federal Correctional Complex, about 45 minutes northwest of Raleigh.

They were registered at 10:35 a.m. Monday at the complex's low-security prison, said Mike Truman, a federal prisons spokesman in Washington.

Prosecutors said the Rigases made Adelphia's finances appear more robust when they were in fact dangerously overextended by concealing nearly $2.3 billion of the company's debt.

They also accused the family of using company funds to finance personal follies, including 100 pairs of slippers for Timothy Rigas and more than $3 million to produce a film by John Rigas' daughter.

Another of John Rigas' sons, Michael Rigas, also received 10 months of home confinement after pleading guilty to making a false entry in a company record.

The Butner Federal Correctional Complex is home to a low-security prison, two medium-security facilities and a medical center for male inmates. Among the inmates at Butner are Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and former North Carolina Democratic Rep. Frank Ballance.

Sami al-Arian, a Palestinian who taught computer science at the University of South Florida and admitted in a plea bargain to conspiring to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was held at the medical prison earlier this year during a two-month hunger strike.

The elder Rigas has a history of health problems, including bladder cancer. When asked about John Rigas' age and health in the face of the 15-year sentence, his attorney, Peter Fleming Jr., said, "You can draw your own conclusions. I have nothing to say."

Attorney John Nields Jr., who is handling Timothy Rigas' appeal, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Authorities began investigating the company in 2002 after the company announced its 2001 results with a press release that included a footnote saying Adelphia had billions in liabilities not previously reported on its balance sheet.

Even after their convictions, the Rigases wrangled with prosecutors for a year about restitution for Adelphia stockholders before they were sentenced.

The pair still hope an appeals court might grant them a new trial, based in part on an argument that the star witness against them, Adelphia's former vice president of finance, James Brown, gave differing accounts of the alleged fraud in civil and criminal court proceedings. The two also hope the U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal.

Adelphia was the country's fifth-largest cable television company serving more than 5 million customers in 31 states when it collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002.

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