NEW YORK – Four former executives ravaged Adelphia Communications Corp. (search) "like their own ATM machine," driving it into bankruptcy and covering their tracks with lies, a prosecutor said Wednesday in closing arguments.
Prosecutor Christopher Clark cited lavish examples of how he said the men spent looted cash — including 17 cars, a golf course and $6,000 to have two Christmas trees flown to New York.
Meandering around the courtroom and pointing individually at each defendant — Adelphia founder John Rigas (search), two of his sons and another company officer — Clark told jurors the men had robbed investors of their life savings.
"Everyone knows it's wrong to lie, ladies and gentlemen," Clark said at the start of closing arguments expected to last more than a week. "Everyone knows it's wrong to take someone else's property."
He cast the case as a matter of "greed, betrayal of trust and lies."
Rigas, sons Michael and Timothy, and former assistant treasurer Michael Mulcahey are accused of hiding more than $2 billion in company debt and stealing with gusto from company coffers.
Lawyers for the defendants have contended that the most the men are guilty of are lapses of judgment. The defendants could each face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, bank fraud.
The fraud was revealed in the summer of 2002, driving the company into bankruptcy. Adelphia has since moved its headquarters from Pennsylvania to Colorado and now operates under bankruptcy protection.
Testimony at the trial, which opened in March, has included eye-popping examples of alleged corporate looting.
A golf professional testified that Timothy Rigas hired her to help clients with golf swings, including a company-footed $7,000 junket to Pebble Beach course in California.
And a man who managed a fleet of private jets told jurors he was hired to deliver eggs, paper towels, toilet paper and even a pair of Christmas trees in 2000 — to John Rigas' daughter, Ellen, he said.
Clark was to continue his closing argument later Wednesday, and was to be followed by arguments from lawyers for each defendant — a procession expected to last well into next week.