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Ex-Adelphia Exec Pleads Guilty

Jan 10, 2003 | Newsday A repentant former Adelphia Communications Corp. executive pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy, and bank, securities and wire fraud, and he agreed to testify against his former bosses at their trial slated to begin in January of next year.

In federal court in Manhattan, Timothy Werth, 33, pleaded guilty to helping conceal the looting of one of the country’s largest cable firms. Werth, who started at Adelphia in February 2000 with duties related to SEC reporting, said he was soon co-opted by the deceptive practices of Adelphia executives.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan office of U.S. Attorney James Comey charge that the firm’s founder, John Rigas, and his sons, Timothy and Michael, who were principals, and other executives committed “one of the most elaborate and extensive corporate frauds” in U.S. history.

The executives allegedly looted corporate accounts, built a private golf course near the firm’s Coudersport, Pa., headquarters and took holidays on Adelphia jets.

“I joined Adelphia with good intentions,” Werth said. “I had no idea that Adelphia senior officials were engaged in any sort of misconduct. After I moved to Coudersport, I learned that they were, and I agreed to participate in some of that misconduct.”

Werth said he conspired with vice president of finance James Brown, Timothy Rigas and others to falsify transactions in the firm’s books, which inflated Adelphia’s worth and made it appear Adelphia was performing better than it was.

“I deeply regret my participation in this fraud,” he said. “I knew at that time that what I was doing was wrong and that I should have walked out rather than agree to participate.”

Werth told U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Lynch that in exchange for a lenient sentence, he was willing to testify against his former superiors.

The two crimes to which he pleaded guilty carry a maximum prison term of 15 years, fines of at least $500,000 and an unspecified amount of restitution. Prosecutors indicated they would seek a lesser term, fines and penalties if Werth testifies for them at the Adelphia trial.

Lynch set a tentantive sentencing date for Werth of Feb. 20 of next year.

Both prosecutor Chris Clark and Werth’s lawyer, David Meister, declined to discuss what kind of reduced sentence, fines and penalty Werth could face.

Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand, who is presiding over the Adelphia case, set a Jan. 5, 2004 trial date for the case.

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