NEW YORK – Founder John Rigas (search) ran up debt backed by Adelphia Communications Corp. (search) to help build the company, a defense lawyer said in an emotional conclusion to his closing statement.
"There is not a speck of evidence, I believe, of any credibility in this case that John Rigas wanted to walk away," attorney Peter Fleming said as he urged jurors to acquit his client of conspiracy and fraud charges.
"I believe all the evidence in this case supports the rationality, the common sense that this adventure, this commitment of capital, this entry of debt would be worth it," Fleming said.
John Rigas; two of his sons, Timothy and Michael; and Michael Mulcahey, another former Adelphia executive, are accused of hiding more than $2 billion in debt and diverting company funds to the Rigas family to buy securities and fund other personal benefits.
Adelphia's public filings disclosed the maximum amount of debt that the family could draw on credit lines the company guaranteed, Fleming said. They also disclosed that the family was buying a lot of Adelphia stock and bonds, he added.
Directors and others endorsed the Rigas family's purchases of Adelphia securities as in the company's best interest, Fleming said.
He also challenged the government's claim that accounting entries did not document the company funds the Rigases used as loans. These accounting entries, where money the Rigases used was booked as a receivable, could be used as evidence in a lawsuit, Fleming said.
"I'm not good at saying thank you," Fleming said, as he ended his summation. "You seem to be friends. You've been here on time for this long ordeal ... I've never seen a more dedicated, more conscientious group of Americans. I'm going to turn my back for a minute and I won't talk to you again. God bless you."
He wiped his eyes as he returned to his seat.
Fleming, 74, is best known for successfully defending boxing promoter Don King (search) in court.