Fallen American media idol Martha Stewart may be near a settlement with federal investigators over the insider trading claims that have blackened her name.

The Justice Department has spent the last year investigating Stewart, formerly a money-spinning icon of wholesome living, after she sold nearly 4,000 shares in biotech firm ImClone a day before the stock slumped – allegedly after receiving a tip-off from the company’s chairman.

Stewart has maintained her innocence, claiming the share sale was part of an existing arrangement with her broker – a claim later denied by the broker’s assistant, Douglas Faneuil [WAMN: 04-Oct-03]

Despite such revelations, federal prosecutors reportedly have had difficulty making anything stick and the homemaking queen has never been charged. More recently, investigators have been looking at less serious allegations such as obstructing the inquiry.

Prosecutors are said to have met with Stewart’s lawyers last week to discuss a settlement, though a pact could still be weeks away.

Even if Stewart escapes criminal charges filed by the Justice Department, she may still face a civil case from the Securities & Exchange Commission [WAMN: 22-Oct-02].

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff