6. John Rigas
If anyone on this list knows about the climb to fortune it’s John Rigas.Born on November 14, 1924 and raised in rural New York by immigrant parents, he was waiting on tables before he was ten, working long nights, and had all the plot points of a rag to riches story.
He started his empire with a small cable TV franchise, which grew into the fifth largest cable provider in the US with almost 6 million customers across 30 states. It was a promising company so investors came knocking, but somewhere along the line Rigas got greedy. He hid a whopping $2.3 billion from his investors.
When his crimes came to light this earned him 15 years in prison. To make matters worse his company’s bankruptcy revealed a further $3.1 billion in unrecorded loans, resulting in the convictions of his own sons.
Rigas cashed in all his assets for legal costs but he couldn’t avoid prison. He petitioned for a presidential pardon, the cheeky monkey, but to no success meaning Rigas will be 92 when his sentence expires. From rags, to riches, to rags again.