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Two Charged With Bilking Adelphia

October 15, 2002

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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Two men were charged with bilking the troubled cable television provider Adelphia Communications Corp. out of $2.1 million by infiltrating the company, then having it pay for unauthorized consulting work.

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted a former employee of Adelphia’s Buffalo, N.Y., office, and a Santa Cruz, Calif., businessman on charges that they set up a complex network of bank accounts and phony identities to conceal the payments.

The consultant, Daniel Wirth, 44, was free Tuesday but was planning to surrender to FBI agents in California, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors said the Adelphia employee had been using the name John Wayne Truelove, but that they believed he had assumed that identity from a 4-year-old New York boy who died in 1959. His real name is unknown, authorities said.

Between September 2001 and March 2002, the man, who began working at Adelphia in 1999, used his position to make 12 payments to Wirth totaling $2.1 million, investigators said.

The case is unrelated to federal charges that Adelphia’s founder, John Rigas, two of his sons and other former executives looted the company of $2.5 billion and used the cash to finance personal business ventures. Adelphia, the nation’s sixth-largest cable company, filed for bankruptcy protection this year.

Wirth’s attorney said Tuesday that the payments were legitimate and his client’s contract to perform work for Adelphia was legal.

The man known as Truelove was in custody in Lehigh County, Pa., on an unrelated charge of giving a fake name to authorities investigating a fire at his home. His attorney, Barnaby Wittels, said the man’s birth name is Joseph Horvath. Wittels declined to address the specific charges against his client.

An Adelphia spokesman said the company was cooperating with the investigation, but declined to discuss the details of the allegations.

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