Encircled by a small army of charcoal-suited attorneys, the embattled Rigas boys stared blankly at the judge’s bench as they faced the music together for their alleged financial misdeeds in U.S District Court in Manhattan.
Dethroned Adelphia CEO John Rigas and his two sons Timothy and Michael were led by federal marshals into the fifth-floor courtroom, which was packed to the gills with reporters craning their necks to get a better look at the fallen cable-TV dynasty.
As if to underscore the depths to which the Coudersport, Pa., family had sunk, the trio had to wait almost an hour for the completion of an earlier arraignment.
Close encounter with mob suspects
They were stuck in line behind two burly men — Staten Island natives in cutoff sweatshirts — accused by the FBI of roughing up hapless debtors in broad daylight for a loan-sharking operation run by the Lucchese crime family. The pair sported matching looks of shock as they came out the door to a standing-room audience of excitable financial writers.
When his turn came, John Rigas sat between his two sons in a slightly rumpled, navy-blue suit, white shirt open at the neck, and no tie.
The disgraced exec — who along with his sons is charged with spiriting more than $2.3 billion in dubious loans out of the cable giant he built — slumped down wearily into his chair as the prosecutor asserted that each defendant faces 15-20 years of jail time if convicted on all charges.
He and his sons all looked a bit sleep-deprived, having been arrested at 6 a.m. Wednesday in a family apartment at the Saratoga, a tony building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Apt. listed in indictment
The apartment itself figures in the long-running Rigas intrigue; it is named among the family’s ill-gotten gains in the U.S. Attorney’s 68-page indictment.
At the end of the 20-minute hearing, the Rigases shuffled silently down the middle aisle of the courtroom, past reporters who seemed almost stunned into silence at the sight of them, to sign documents binding each man over to trial on $10 million bond.
Deal, negotiated by counsel ahead of time, puts up as collateral most of the family’s assets, including their $700,000 family home and 5,000 acres of land in Coudersport, a $2.4 million condo in Beaver Creek, Colo., and another in Hilton Head, S.C., worth $3.3 million.
After placing their property at the mercy of the U.S. government, the trio rushed past the forest of TV cameras staked out in front of the courthouse to enjoy 30 days of mortgaged freedom. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 23 to determine whether, as expected, the Rigases will go on trial.