Martha Stewart Sentenced to 5 Months in Prison
Stewart's Broker Receives Similar Sentence
By Brooke A. Masters
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2004; 4:45 PM
NEW YORK, July 16 -- An emotional Martha Stewart was sentenced Friday to five months in prison for obstructing a federal securities investigation, then marched outside the courthouse to declare that "a small personal matter" had been blown out of proportion and urge supporters to stick with her company's products.
The multimillionaire businesswoman, who must also serve five months in home confinement, got the lightest sentence available under the ordinary federal guidelines. U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said Stewart, 62, can remain free on bond while she appeals her conviction, a process that could take a year or more.
Her former broker, Peter E. Bacanovic, 42, who was convicted with her in March of obstruction, conspiracy and lying to federal investigators, received the same terms of confinement in a separate proceeding later in the day.
Stewart, who built a home catering business into a multimedia empire and became the country's premier determiner of domestic style, was a study in contrasts as she broke two years of nearly total silence about the investigation.
Inside the courtroom, her voice shook as she told the judge, "Today is a shameful day. It is shameful for me, for my family, and for my beloved company and all of its employees and partners. What was a small personal matter became over the last two and a half years an almost fatal circus event of unprecedented proportions spreading like oil over a vast landscape, even around the world. I have been choked and almost suffocated to death."
Asking the judge to "remember all the good that I have done, all the contributions I have made," she pleaded, "My hopes that my life will not be completely destroyed lie entirely in your competent and experienced and merciful hands."
But after exiting the courthouse to cheers of "We love you, Martha" from two dozen supporters, Stewart took a far more defiant tone, even as she repeated many of the same words.
Saying that more than 200 people had lost jobs at her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, "as a result of this situation," Stewart said: " I want them to know how very, very sorry I am for them and their families."
She thanked the 170,000 people who she said have sent e-mails of support to her Web site and urged them to help the company by subscribing to her magazines, lobbying the advertisers and buying her housewares and furnishings.
"I don't want to use this as a sales pitch for my company, but we love that company, we've worked so hard . . . and we really think it merits great attention from the American public," she said.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Martha Stewart leaves Manhattan federal court Friday morning after her sentencing hearing.
(Peter Morgan - Reuters)
Details of Stewart's Sentence|
at 11:53 AM
-PRISON: Five months in a federal prison in Danbury, Conn. Stewart will be allowed to stay out of prison while she appeals her conviction.
-HOME DETENTION: Five months, following the prison term, in her home in Bedford, N.Y. She must remain in her home except for special exceptions - but those exceptions must total no more than 48 hours per week. For one day a week, she may not leave under any circumstances. Cedarbaum is considering whether Stewart must wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.
-SUPERVISED RELEASE: Two years, in which Stewart must report to a probation officer.
-FINE: $30,000. Must pay immediately.
-COURT FEE: $400. Must pay immediately.