Stewart, Bacanovic Guilty; Will Appeal, Say Lawyers

08 March 2004

Martha Stewart, America's arbiter of good taste and stylish living, along with her Merrill Lynch broker Peter Bacanovic, was found guilty on Friday in a Manhattan District Court.

The jury, eight women and four men, found both defendants guilty on counts of making false statements, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Bacanovic was judged not guilty on a further charge of making and using false documents.

Lawyers for both said they would appeal, although legal observers believe there to be little chance of an appeal being upheld. They opine that Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum made no obvious judicial errors that might justify overturning the guilty verdicts, especially after she threw out the most serious charge of securities fraud.

These onlookers also noted that the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals where the cases would be reviewed overturns fewer than 10% of appealed convictions.

Stewart and Bacanovic will appear again before Judge Cedarbaum Monday morning for administrative procedures related to sentencing which will take place on June 17. The pair are expected to apply for bail.

Each of the charges on which they have been found guilty carries a maximum sentence of five years, although few expect that the full penalties will be imposed.

Shares in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the media maven's exploitation vehicle, plunged 25% on Friday after news of the jury verdict.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff