John J. Rigas, Cable TV Magnate Who Pillaged His Company, Dies at 96

John James Rigas, the son of Greek immigrants who built one of the nation’s largest cable TV companies only to lose it all in a celebrated case of corporate excess, passed away on September 30.

John J. Rigas, who turned a $300 investment in a local cable television system into the nation’s sixth largest cable company, only to see his empire collapse after he was convicted of looting the business of hundreds of millions of dollars, died on Thursday in Coudersport, Pa. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by William T. Brennan Jr., a funeral director at the Thomas E. Fickinger Funeral Home in Coudersport, where Mr. Rigas lived.

The son of Greek immigrants, Mr. Rigas served in the infantry in World War II before becoming one of the pioneering entrepreneurs who created the cable television industry in the 1950s.


Over five decades he became a billionaire and built a highly successful family-run business, Adelphia Communications Corporation, with 5.5 million customers in more than 30 states. At the height of his success, in the late ’90s, the family bought the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League.

But Adelphia, along with the Rigas family fortune, came crashing down in 2004. Mr. Rigas and his son Timothy, Adelphia’s chief financial officer, were convicted of securities fraud and bank fraud for falsifying Adelphia’s earnings a