The former accounting director for Adelphia Communications Corp. pleaded guilty Friday in a cooperation agreement that should strengthen the government’s case against the founder of the now bankrupt cable company and his sons.
Timothy A. Werth, 33, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan a day after John Rigas, the 78-year-old founder of the Coudersport, Pa., company, learned that his trial would begin next January.
Werth pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud, and faces a sentence of 15 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines if convicted.
“I deeply regret my part in this fraud. I should have walked out rather than agree to participate,” Werth told the court.
District Judge Gerard Lynch set sentencing for Feb. 20, 2004.
Werth and two other members of the Rigas family, along with another former executive, were accused of one of the largest corporate frauds in U.S. history. The government said they looted corporate accounts, in part to build a golf course, as they lied to investors about the company’s massive debts.
At the company, Werth had reported to James Brown, the former vice president of finance.
In November, Brown pleaded guilty in the case, admitting that he manipulated and overstated earnings to fool the investment community into thinking Adelphia was doing well even as it accumulated massive off-the-book debts.
Officials say company executives secretly transferred hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the firm into accounts controlled by the Rigas family.
The government is seeking forfeiture of more than $2.5 billion for the alleged fraud and corporate looting.