Adelphia: Rigases Owe $3.23 Billion

Adelphia Communications Corp. (ADELQ) asked a U.S. bankruptcy court to order its founding Rigas family to pay back $3.23 billion it says the family owes the company, court papers show.

The papers were filed on Friday in a racketeering lawsuit against the family that began in July 2002. The original suit did not specify the damages sought.

Calls to lawyers for the Rigas family were not immediately returned. Philip Korologos of the Armonk, New York law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP filed the new papers, which were also reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The filing came less than two months after a jury found Adelphia founder John Rigas (search) and his son, former chief financial officer Timothy Rigas (search), guilty of fraud and conspiracy in the cable TV company's multibillion-dollar collapse.

Much of the family's wealth vanished when the scandal forced Adelphia to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2002.

The dollar amount Adelphia is seeking is based on testimony in the criminal trial by Robert DiBella, the prosecution's last witness. DiBella and a team of Adelphia accountants spent thousands of hours reviewing the company's accounting records.

According to the papers, the Rigases' lawyers during the trial "repeatedly acknowledged" the family owes the company money.

"The books and records of Adelphia reveal benefits to the Rigases as of April 30, 2002, of $3,232,373,940 at the expense of Adelphia," the filing said.

"The Rigases have conceded the key, and only, relevant issue here: the Rigases owe Adelphia all (these amounts)," it added. "The Rigases have not repaid Adelphia, and Adelphia bears the burden of the debt that benefited the Rigases."

Adelphia filed for bankruptcy protection after the revelation it was liable for $2.3 billion that the Rigas family had borrowed to buy company stock in a bid to retain control.

In July, Adelphia hired advisers to manage a possible sale of the company. Analysts have said the company might fetch $20 billion.