Monday, June 13, 2005

Sentencing of John and Timothy Rigas Finally Set for June 20 (oops)

The sentencing of former Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas will finally take place today June 20 before U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand.  The father-and-son executives at Adelphia were convicted of multiple counts of securities fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy in July 2004 related to the misuse of corporate assets for their own personal benefit and failure to disclose accounting irregularities; Michael Rigas, another of John's sons who worked at the company, was acquitted on the conspiracy count but the jury hung on the other charges, and he is slated to be retried in October.  Sentencing had originally been set for January 5, and has been postponed repeatedly until now.  A Wall Street Journal article (here) states that the government has requested a 215-year -- that's right, "year" not "month" -- sentence for the two defendants.  John's attorney has requested probation or home confinement, while Timothy's lawyer has asked for a six-month term. 

i wonder whether such extreme requests are really helpful to the clients of either side.  A 215-year term of imprisonment is simply ludicrous, even if it is a technically defensible application of the Sentencing Guidelines.  At the same time, the fraud at Adelphia, which caused the company to collapse while the Rigas family lined its pockets, is sufficiently serious that home confinement or a six-month prison sentence is hardly likely.  Neither side provides much assistance to Judge Sand by staking out such positions, and the advisory nature of the Guidelines means he need not adhere to the government's position even if it were supportable factually.  Defense counsel owe an obligation to their clients to seek the best possible result; the same certainly cannot be said for the U.S. Attorney's Office.  As soon as the sentence is reported I will update this post. (ph)


UPDATE: That will teach me not to pay attention.  The judge postponed the sentencing last week to Monday, June 20.  Same thing next week, too. (ph)

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