As a prosecutor repeatedly asked about duty to shareholders, a former Adelphia Communications Corp. executive conceded Thursday that he answered to the founding family when watching over the company's books.
"I really didn't think in terms of the shareholders," Michael C. Mulcahey, the company's former assistant treasurer, testified.
"I understand the corporation is owned by the shareholders," Mulcahey offered at one point. "The owners of the company are indirectly my bosses, but that's not who I reported to."
Instead, he said, he followed the orders of Adelphia founder John J. Rigas, 79, and his son, Timothy J. Rigas, the company's treasurer. All three men are co-defendants along with Michael J. Rigas, another former Adelphia executive and a son of John Rigas.
The government accuses the men of using the nation's fifth-largest cable company as their "private piggy bank," withdrawing millions of dollars to live an extravagant lifestyle that included frivolous use of the company's fleet of jets.
Prosecutors say the defendants hid $2 billion in debts from investors as the company grew to 5.3 million cable subscribers nationwide.
Defense lawyers have argued that the company needed to invest in golf courses, a professional hockey team and other trophies of success as it maneuvered through the landscape of the investment world to secure ever-larger cable television contracts.
Mulcahey is the only defendant to take the witness stand.
In direct testimony over several days, Mulcahey told the court that he thought Adelphia acted properly when it invested in golf courses and loaned John Rigas up to $1 million a month.
Mulcahey's salary at the company rose from $45,000 to $140,000 during his decade at the company.