Style guru Martha Stewart jailed for five months

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The Independent Online

Celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart was today sentenced to five months in prison and five months of home confinement for lying about a stock sale.

Celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart was today sentenced to five months in prison and five months of home confinement for lying about a stock sale.

Just before her sentence was pronounced, Stewart asked the judge to "remember all the good I have done".

She said: "Today is a shameful day. It's shameful for me, for my family and for my company."

District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum stayed the sentence pending appeal, which keeps Stewart temporarily out of jail.

Cedarbaum rejected a defence request to send to Stewart to a half-way house for the first five months, reasoning that "lying to government agencies during the course of an investigation is a very serious matter" and that the sentence was at the bottom of the confinement range.

Stewart was also fined US$30,000.

Earlier, Stewart, 62, dressed simply in a black pantsuit, showed no emotion as she strode briskly through a media horde. Supporters applauded and one shouted, "Hold your head high, Martha!"

In the final weeks before Stewart's sentencing, hundreds of well-wishers sent letters to the judge asking for mercy.

Former Merrill Lynch & Co. stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, who was convicted along with Stewart of lying about the 2001 stock sale, was scheduled to be sentenced later Friday.

It was Dec. 27, 2001, when Stewart, in a brief phone call from a Texas tarmac on her way to a Mexican vacation, sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc., a company run by her longtime friend Sam Waksal.

Prosecutors alleged that Bacanovic, 42, ordered his assistant to tip Stewart that Waksal was trying to sell his shares. ImClone announced negative news the next day that sent the stock plunging. Stewart saved US$51,000.

Stewart and Bacanovic always maintained she sold because of a preset plan to unload the stock when it fell to US$60. ImClone now trades around US$80.

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