Stewart Off Hook on Most Serious Charge

01 March 2004

US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum on Friday had the good taste to dismiss the most serious of the five charges levelled against Martha Stewart -- that of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment.

The Regina of refinement, it was alleged by the government, had deceived investors in her corporate exploitation vehicle Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia by lying to them about her sale of stock in biotech company ImClone. She did so, charged the prosecution, to shore up the falling value of stock in her company.

However, Stewart is not yet out of the wood. She still awaits a verdict on four charges, each with a maximum sentence of five years: conspiracy, obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to investigators. Similar indictments remain in place against her former broker and co-defendant Peter Bacanovic.

Stewart's showy attorney Robert G Morvillo (who last week declined to put his client on the stand) is expected to command center-stage today, Monday, as the trial enters its closing arguments phase. Jury deliberations are likely to begin Wednesday.

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