Lawyers acting for America’s fallen homemaking queen Martha Stewart, were disconsolately empty-handed Monday evening as they boarded the Washington-New York shuttle.
The media maven of matters stylish and tasteful had hoped her legal team could persuade senior officials in Washington’s Justice Department to call off their rottweilers in the New York district attorney’s office. The Manhattan district attorney is currently pressurizing Stewart's legal legions for a plea agreement regarding her alleged insider trading.
But Washington declined to intervene.
According to legal experts the Stewart gambit is a classic last-ditch stratagem of a nervy defence. “That would not happen if the US attorney’s office had not articulated a final position to her,” opined Tom Dewey of New York law firm Dewey, Pegno & Kramarsky
Stewart denies allegations of insider trading made after she sold $225,000 of shares in ImClone in December 2001, just one day before the Food and Drug Administration withheld approval for its cancer drug Erbitex. Her close friend, ImClone founder and ceo Sam Waksal, awaits sentencing on June 10 after pleading guilty to bank and securities fraud charges.
Those close to the Stewart camp say she is unlikely to face such serious charges, the NY attorney’s office preferring the lesser option of obstructing an investigation.
But even this misdemeanour could result in a prison sentence for the media millionairess. It would also disbar her from serving as an officer of her publicly-quoted company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The case could be resolved this week, according to insiders.
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Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia revealed last night it had been advised that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York has confirmed Stewart is the subject of a criminal investigation and that it will request a grand jury indictment “in the near future.”
In a later statement, Stewart’s attorney Robert Morvillo said: “If Martha Stewart is indicted, she intends to declare her innocence and proceed to trial.”
Data sourced from: Financial Times and AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff