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Adelphia Published False Statement, Witness Says

Mar 26, 2004 | AP

Adelphia Communications Corp. published a false statement in its 2000 proxy, an accountant who used to work for John Rigas testified Thursday in the trial of Rigas, two of his sons and a fourth former executive.

Although the proxy dated July 7, 2000, said Adelphia advanced $5 million to Dorellenic Cable Partners, a business owned by John Rigas, the company actually advanced only "$100,000 or $200,000," said Christopher Thurner, an accountant for John Rigas from 1991 until early this year.

Thurner has entered a deal with the government and hopes to avoid charges for any potential crimes through his cooperation, he testified.

John, Michael, and Timothy Rigas, along with former executive Michael Mulcahey, have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and fraud in an alleged scheme to mislead investors and loot the cable giant.

Thurner oversaw the accounting for the numerous businesses owned by the Rigases and began to testify Thursday on how their finances mingled with those of Adelphia.

Thurner said he resigned from his job three months ago in a phone call to John Rigas.

"He asked if I had met with the government. I told him I couldn't talk about that. He asked me how many years I had worked for him," Thurner recalled. The two men then discussed their years working together, he said.

Earlier Thursday, defense lawyers were unable to shake much of the testimony of Charles Raptis, a longtime Adelphia employee and a member of the extended Rigas family, who was on the stand for most of the week.

A series of real estate transactions in March 1994 were designed to lower the balance various Rigas family businesses owed Adelphia, he said.

Thurner said Timothy Rigas advocated selling real estate to reduce the $26.3 million those businesses owed Adelphia.

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