Cable Operators

Nikita’s Wilson Flew Air Adelphia

3/15/2004 9:38 AM Eastern

New York -- Actress Peta Wilson, looking visibly nervous, took the witness stand at the federal fraud trial of four former Adelphia Communications Corp. executives Monday, stating that she flew on the Adelphia corporate jet at least eight times for personal reasons.

Wilson, former star of USA Network show La Femme Nikita, said she met the Rigases in 1996 at the National Show in New Orleans as part of a promotional stop for the program, which had not yet aired.

She said she next met former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy Rigas after the company sent the corporate jet to St. Barts -- where she was on vacation with her mother -- to bring her to Buffalo, N.Y., to drop the puck at a Buffalo Sabres National Hockey League game. The Rigases owned the Sabres at the time.

Wilson said she was reluctant to go to Buffalo but she was instructed by her boss -- then-USA Networks Inc. chairman Barry Diller -- to make the trip.

Wilson said she and Tim Rigas became quick friends and spent some time together over the next few years. At least four times, Tim Rigas sent the corporate jet to Toronto -- where Wilson was filming La Femme Nikita -- to bring her to New York for dinner.

Wilson also hitched a ride to Los Angeles with Rigas and others in December 2000.

"Tim was going [to L.A.], we were friends," Wilson said. "He was doing business and he knew my boyfriend lived in L.A."

On one occasion, Wilson said, she invited Tim Rigas to join her on a photo shoot for the show in Jamaica. Asked by defense attorneys if the purpose of asking Rigas to join her was so that he could learn another side of the TV business -- the shoot was a promotion for Condé Nast Traveler magazine -- Wilson said no.

"I thought he should come and relax," she added.

After her testimony, Wilson answered a few questions from reporters through her attorney outside of the courtroom.

Donald Etra, Wilson’s attorney, said she has had no contact with Tim Rigas for several years, but they were good friends.

"There is nothing but good feelings and memories of the relationship," Etra added.

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