John J. Rigas

John J. Rigas’ sick, 91-year-old body is slowly dying at a federal prison camp in northeast Pennsylvania, his attorney says.

The former Buffalo Sabres owner spent about a week in the hospital earlier this month because of internal bleeding.

Before his conviction, Rigas was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That came back several months ago and has spread to a lung and a kidney.

Jailed for the past eight years, Rigas likely won’t live until Jan. 21, 2018, the scheduled release date for his fraud conviction, his doctors say.

Even though a federal judge this week rejected Rigas’ plea for early release, his attorney, Lawrence G. McMichael, is hopeful Rigas won’t die in prison.

Based on U.S. District Judge Kimba M Woods’ ruling,McMichael said he believes his client has met the test for “extraordinary circumstances” that bodes well for the petition to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for “compassionate release.” Wood denied the request to set bail for Rigas, but McMichael said he is hopeful the Federal Bureau of Prisons will reach a favorable decision next month.

“He’s got metastatic cancer,” the lawyer said. “Every day counts.”

Prognoses from doctors on how long his client has left to live vary from a few months to a year, depending on what level of care he gets.

If Rigas is released from the Waymart, Pa., facility, his family would likely take him to an advanced cancer care center, like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan or the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, his attorney said.

Rigas’ day-to-day life in the minimum-security camp is spent living with his son, Timothy, who also went to prison following the fall of Adelphia Communications Corp.

“Tim’s job is to take care of John,” McMichael said by phone Wednesday.

Timothy J. Rigas has been doing that ever since the pair went to prison together after they were found guilty in 2004 of lying about the finances of and stealing from the cable company John Rigas founded.

Rigas is pursuing another legal route, but that’s only in the discovery stage and could be a year away from coming to a conclusion.

Adelphia was the fifth-largest cable television company in the country at the time of its collapse.

The Rigases were arrested in 2002 and found guilty of fraud and conspiracy in 2004, with prosecutors saying the pair “looted” the company of $100 million while hiding billions of dollars of debt and lying to banks and investors about Adelphia’s earnings.

Timothy Rigas is scheduled to be released in June 2022, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com

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