Friday, March 19, 2004

Stewart asks friends to write judge

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - In hopes of winning less time in prison, Martha Stewart has asked friends to write to the judge who will determine her sentence for lying about a stock sale.

Stewart asked people to write about her character, work ethic and integrity in letters to U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who will issue the sentence in June.

"If possible, include any memorable experiences you have had with me to explain the basis of any expressed opinion," Stewart wrote in her letter, dated March 12.

The gossip Web site obtained the Stewart letter and posted it Wednesday. A source close to Stewart, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed its authenticity Thursday.

Stewart is expected to receive 10 to 16 months in prison when she is sentenced June 17, although Cedarbaum could allow her to spend some of the sentence in home confinement.

On March 5, a federal jury convicted Stewart and broker Peter Bacanovic of obstructing justice and lying to the government about Stewart's sale of 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems stock Dec. 27, 2001.

The government said she sold because she was tipped that ImClone CEO Sam Waksal was unloading his shares. Stewart's lawyers conceded that she got that tip - but said she sold because of a preset plan to sell when the stock hit $60.

Stewart has since resigned from the board of her media company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, assuming the new title of founding editorial director. She resigned as CEO last year.

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