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Judge agrees to let John Rigas leave prison early

It looks like John J. Rigas is heading home.

Several news services reported Friday evening that the 91-year-old Rigas, the former owner of the Buffalo Sabres and head of the former Adelphia Communications Corp., will be able to leave prison early, in the wake of a federal court decision on Friday about his case.

A judge in New York City, District Judge Kimba M. Wood, ruled that Rigas may be released from prison with his time served counting as his sentence, according to Reuters and the Associated Press.

Rigas had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud that led to the collapse of the cable company.

Rigas has Stage IV bladder cancer.

In a story in The Buffalo News last month, Rigas’ condition was reported to be weak, and he was said to have only about six months to live.

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Related content: The push to bring John Rigas home

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In that story, some people in Coudersport, Pa. – a small community where Adelphia had been headquartered – said they thought Rigas should be released and allowed to come home.

At that time, an attorney for Rigas, Lawrence G. McMichael of Philadelphia, said this about the prospects for Rigas’ release before his full sentence is served:

“I have to be an optimist and hope that people do the right and compassionate thing, and if they do that, John will be released before he dies.”

Rigas had been serving out his time in a prison in Pennsylvania.

He would not have been eligible for parole until January 2018.

His son, Timothy Rigas, is currently in prison on a 17-year sentence, for the Adelphia matter.

email: cvogel@buffnews.com