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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A sad climax

     July 24, 2002 -- What had seemed impossible just a few short months before became reality on this day.

     John Rigas along with sons Timothy and Michael were arrested in New York City and charged with conspiracy to commit security fraud. The family founded Adelphia Communications and owned the Buffalo Sabres.

     Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Thompson at a news conference called the alleged crimes as "brazen thefts" of hundreds of millions of dollars. He added, "The complaint alleges that members of the Rigas family systematically looted the company ... of hundreds of millions of dollars."

     John Rigas had built a small company out of Coudersport, Pa., into the sixth-largest cable company in America. Along the way, he took control of the Sabres and used it as the center piece for a cable channel, the Empire Sports Network.

     Rigas and his two sons eventually went to prison. The NHL quickly stripped Rigas of the Sabres, and Tom Golisano later purchased the team.

     The lasting image of the entire matter was that of John Rigas doing a "perp walk" -- a walk through a public place so that television cameras can record the person's disgrace. It will be shown whenever Rigas' name comes up forever.

--- Budd Bailey

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