Michael Rigas Letter to the Editor

Editor’s Note: The following Letter to the Editor, submitted to CoudyNews by Michael Rigas upon our invitation, was originally published in the Potter Leader Enterprise on May 11, 2011 as a follow-up to a letter printed in the Enterprise by Luke Patterson on March 23, 2011.


Luke Patterson’s recent letter to the editor recounts the federal government’s destructive ambush of Adelphia Communications Corporation nine years ago.  The government’s conduct in that event should trouble all Americans who truly believe in the fundamental values of fairness and due process that this country was founded upon.

While a good deal of Luke’s letter is based upon personal belief, a legal brief recently submitted to the Middle District of Pennsylvania by our attorneys supports his theory of  improper motives and unfair tactics on the part of government officials.  The factual underpinning of this brief consists of actual documents produced by parties to the events of 2002 and beyond.

These documents reveal a government determined to enhance its already enormous advantage over white-collar defendants by coercing Adelphia Communications Corporation, the company my father had founded and led for fifty years, into becoming a prosecuting arm of the government, well before any significant facts in the case were known.  Government prosecutors accomplished this incredible feat by threatening to destroy Adelphia immediately if the company did not participate in the government’s aggressive pursuit of the family.  The government had recently destroyed the world’s largest accounting firm, Arthur Anderson—and with it the jobs of 30,000 employees—by merely bringing criminal charges against that company.  The government acted not out of a desire to see justice served, but out of a political need to punish someone for the recent precipitous decline in shareholder value on Wall Street.

Acting through Adelphia’s non-Rigas, or “independent,” directors and company lawyers, the government exercised its leverage over Adelphia to tilt the playing field against us in numerous ways.

  • It forced all of the Rigases to resign as officers and directors of Adelphia.  I remember vividly the stark choice presented to us by Erkie Kailbourne – either step down or see the company destroyed, with the attendant loss of all shareholder value and all jobs in Potter County.
  • It prevented Adelphia from complying with its own corporate by-laws and with Delaware law, both of which required the company to pay legal costs incurred as a result of a government investigation and prosecution.  At the time we resigned, we were assured by Mr. Kailbourne and others that Adelphia would honor its legal obligation to fund our defense. Within ten days, with Adelphia under intense pressure from the government, this promise was broken.
  • It sought to block us from using even our private assets to defend ourselves.
  • It co-opted Adelphia’s internal investigation of the issues, inducing the Adelphia Special Committee, consisting of the board’s independent directors, and the company’s lawyers to conduct an Inquisition having a pre-determined conclusion of Rigas guilt.
  • It cut off all contact between the Rigas family and Adelphia lawyers, accounting firms, and employees at a time when we needed critical information to defend ourselves.
  • It relied heavily on Adelphia law firms, accounting firms, and employees to help prepare its case against us – to produce and prepare witnesses, to summarize Adelphia and Rigas records, to come up with accounting theories, and to perform many other litigation functions.
  • The government, in short, supported by its own unlimited funds, as well as by the vast resources of a major corporation (post-Rigas Adelphia management estimated Adelphia to have had a value in 2002 of as much as $33 billion), and armed with virtually unchecked authority to destroy corporations and individuals, was able to create its own false reality of what had occurred at Adelphia.

Post-Rigas Adelphia’s main mission was to appease the government by participating in efforts to craft a story of a criminal enterprise operating in a backwoods rural setting, a story designed to sell in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the national media.  Working relentlessly toward this goal, Adelphia delivered to federal prosecutors a ready-made case against the Rigases.

Our family believes that we currently possess only a portion of the documents relevant to the government’s unconstitutional coercion of Adelphia.  We are now striving to obtain the remaining papers so that the complete story can be told.

As part of my father’s and brother’s tax evasion case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge John Jones in September 2010 ordered the government and other parties to produce discovery for the purpose of  shedding further light on the government’s conduct. Despite this ruling of over six months ago, the government has still not turned over any pertinent documents, using one legal argument after the other to avoid transparency in its operations.  We have experienced similar difficulties in getting Adelphia’s law firms to release all appropriate documents.  We will continue to seek full disclosure from the government and Adelphia lawyers in the weeks and months ahead.

On a different discovery matter, we scored a significant victory last week when Judge Jones ordered the government to produce notes taken in interviews with SEC counsel Carl Rothenberger and others.  A link to this opinion as well as to the Rigas brief and other updates about our ongoing legal battles are available on John Rigas’s website, www.johnrigas.com or on his Facebook page.


Michael J. Rigas

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  1. admin says:

    In a recent CoudyNews.com poll conducted via our Facebook fanpage, 254 participants said John Rigas should be pardoned, with only 33 participants answering to the contrary. Fifteen participants indicated they were undecided.

    The poll is still open and ongoing and may be voted on by visiting our Facebook fanpage at: http://facebook.com/coudynews

  2. sosad says:

    love our country. fear our government.

  3. essie says:

    Excellent letter, Michael. I tried to vote to pardon your father on the fan page mentioned by the Editor, but could locate it anywhere. – Couderean Class of 1975

  4. essie says:

    CORRECTION: Could NOT locate it.

  5. admin says:

    Hi Essie,

    You can find all of our Facebook polls by going to our fanpage (http://facebook.com/coudynews) and then clicking on ‘Questions’ in the left sidebar. Once there you will see all of our Facebook polls.

    To make it a bit easier, here is a direct link to the poll: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=question&id=212051265491731&qa_ref=pt

  6. Jim Bob says:

    Access to Rigas family holdings in order to mount a defense? Isn’t part of that the money that was borrowed from adelphia? ABS’s collapse was due to the Rigases borrowing money from adelphia and shelving the loss to ABS. Plain and simple. John Rigas may not be guilty, he actually seems like a man taking the blame for greedy sons

  7. Mrzerooc says:

    Utter garbage. The Rigas family STOLE & got caught. End of story…..

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