Thursday, July 14, 2005
Former Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas, sentenced last month to 15 and 20 years, respectively, will be allowed to remain free on bail pending appeals of their convictions. Judge Leonard Sand, who presided over the trial, found that they presented at least one issue in their appeal that has a reasonable chance of succeeding, regarding whether the government should have been required to call an expert witness to testify about accounting matters at the company. Although the statutory presumption is against bail pending appeal, the judge found that the Rigases pose not threat to the community and are not a flight risk, and because they have a viable appellate claim they should not be required to report to begin their sentences. For 80-year-old John Rigas, this is a significant victory because of the length of time the appeal can take and his health problems.
Interestingly, Judge Sand also recused himself from the retrial of Michael Rigas, John's son (and Timothy's brother), whose second trial is currently set to begin in October; the jury hung on the charges against him arising from the fraud at Adelphia. Media reports at the end of the first trial indicated that the jury was split 9-3 in favor of acquittal for Michael on securities fraud charges, but the government is pressing ahead.
An AP story (here) discusses Judge Sand's decision on bail and recusal. (ph)