COUDERSPORT, PA. Adelphia founder blasts planned move
Adelphia is leaving its rural hometown for Denver.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- John J. Rigas, for the most part tight-lipped through Adelphia Communications' months-long slide into bankruptcy, spoke out bitterly about the new management's decision to move the company headquarters out of rural Pennsylvania.
The decision by the new board of the bankrupt cable television provider to base the company in Denver started the founder's telephone ringing.
"I've had phone calls from people in this area. They are saddened and disappointed," said Rigas, reached Tuesday at his home in Coudersport. "Some of our people will be moving and we'll miss them."
Rigas, 78, started the company with a small cable franchise in Coudersport in 1952.
"After 50 years of building the system with my brother and the family, it naturally saddens all of us, because we worked so hard to build the company," Rigas said. After weeks of rumors, he said, "It's not an unexpected move, but it hurts."
Rigas wouldn't comment on the long list of allegations that he and family members used the company's cash for personal purposes, such as buying the Buffalo Sabres, expanding personal cable company holdings, acquiring timberland and building a golf course. He said the allegations "are just that: allegations."
As for the company's bankruptcy filing, his nationally televised arrest and his federal indictment, Rigas said, "Where we are at the present is something that would never have been scripted in my life."
He said many area residents continue to support him.
"At first there was some mixed feeling, but when I go downtown, where people used to wave and say 'Hi John' and shake my hand, when they see me they come up and give me a genuine hug," Rigas said.
Rigas said he anticipated hearing the charges aired in court, maintaining, "I think at the end of the day we'll be vindicated."
The headquarters move had been rumored since Adelphia hired William Schleyer and Ron Cooper, both former executives with AT & amp;T Broadband, as its new chief executive and operating officers Jan. 17.
AT & amp;T Broadband was based in Denver until it was acquired by Philadelphia-based Comcast in November, and Cooper has a residence there.
The move is planned by midyear, subject to approval by regulators and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.