The crisis at Charter Communications Inc. just got worse, as the cable operator
said chief operating officer David Barford had been placed on paid leave.
A federal grand jury has been investigating Charter's accounting practices,
but there's no indication whether the move was tied to the criminal inquiry.
Investors are assuming that Barford's status is a sign that even worse news
is coming, pounding the company's stock and bonds. Charter's stock was down 20
percent Tuesday morning -- not a huge deal, since Charter is already a penny stock
and small-dollar moves mean big-percentage changes.
More alarming is trading in the company's bonds, some of which dropped from
an already-low 55 cents on the dollar to 45 cents, a giant swing in the bond
A Charter executive said he could not elaborate beyond a terse press release
that said CEO Carl Vogel is assuming Barford's duties.
Barford has been with Charter since 1995, joining the company from Comcast