A federal judge refused on Thursday to grant Martha Stewart a new trial, paving the way for her to be sentenced next week for lying about a stock sale.
Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum of federal court in Manhattan brushed aside claims by Stewart and her former stockbroker that their convictions are tainted by charges that a Secret Service ink expert lied on the witness stand.
"Because there is no reasonable likelihood that this perjury could have affected the jury's verdict, and because overwhelming independent evidence supports the verdict, the motions are denied," Cedarbaum wrote.
The decision means a sentencing hearing for Stewart and former broker Peter E. Bacanovic set for July 16 -- already delayed twice because of the new-trial motions -- is all but certain to go forward.
Legal experts expect Stewart and Bacanovic each to be sentenced to 10 to 16 months in prison, although Cedarbaum could allow them to serve some of the time at halfway houses or in home confinement.
Stewart's lawyer Robert G. Morvillo said he was "very disappointed" by the ruling.
Stewart and Bacanovic asked for new trials after Secret Service laboratory director Larry F. Stewart was charged with lying repeatedly during his testimony at the trial.
Prosecutors say that Larry Stewart falsely claimed he took part in testing ink on a stock worksheet that was a key piece of evidence at trial and that he lied when he said he knew about a proposal for a forthcoming book on ink analysis.
But Cedarbaum rejected defense claims that Larry Stewart -- no relation to Martha Stewart -- was an essential part of the prosecution and that prosecutors knew about the alleged lies in advance.
Larry Stewart was simply "an expert witness who was also a government employee," the judge wrote. "He was not a member of the government 'team' which investigated and prosecuted defendants."
Larry Stewart, on leave from the Secret Service, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in September.
The judge previously rejected a new-trial motion from Martha Stewart and Bacanovic alleging that a juror lied about a prior arrest record to get on the jury.
Morvillo is expected to raise both issues with a federal appeals court after the sentencing. Even if Martha Stewart is sentenced to prison, Cedarbaum or the appeals court could postpone the prison time until the appeal is heard.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. stock closed down 21 cents, or 2.4 percent, at $8.67 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Stewart, who founded the company and later took it public, resigned as chief executive after she was indicted in 2003 and from the board of directors when she was convicted in March. She remains founding editorial director.