John Rigas Biography

Adelphia Communications Corporation CEO John Rigas was arrested after being involved in one of the largest corporate fraud cases in the U.S.


Born on November 14, 1924, in New York, John Rigas was raised in a working class household. After Rigas began acquiring suburban cable channels, he created Adelphia Communications Corporation, a company that grew to become the fifth largest cable provider in the United States. However, Rigas' cable empire came crashing down in 2002, when he was indicted for bank fraud and forced to retire. Rigas was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Early Life

Business executive and convict John J. Rigas was born on November 14, 1924, in Wellsville, New York. One of four children born to Greek immigrants, John Rigas served in the Army during World War II and returned to New York to study engineering.

Adelphia Communication Corporation

Rigas' first business venture was buying a local movie theater in 1951. After his family purchased the local television cable franchise, Rigas began accruing suburban cable franchises, eventually naming the umbrella company Adelphia Corporation. The company became one of the largest cable providers in the United States, with systems spanning 30 states and serving 5.6 million customers. Adelphia also added high-speed Internet and long-distance telephone service to its offerings.

Criminal Charges and Conviction

In May 2002, John Rigas was forced to resign as CEO of Adelphia after being indicted for bank, wire and securities fraud. Following the indictment, Adelphia was forced to file for bankruptcy. Rigas' sons, Timothy J. Rigas and Michael J. Rigas, his son-in-law, Peter Venetis, and Michael Mulcahey were also charged.

The accused were charged with concealing $2.3 billion in liabilities from corporate investors and stealing from the corporation to the tune of $3.1 billion. In 2004, Rigas was convicted and in 2005 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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