The trial of Martha Stewart drew a wide response in public. It is necessary to point out that Ms. Stewart was a prominent figure in American mass media and the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She was accused of committing a crime, of obstruction of justice trial. According to the Martha Stewart, Part Deux: The SEC Insider Trading Case: “Along with the criminal indictment on false statement, perjury, obstruction, and conspiracy charges filed on June 4, 2003, Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic were sued the same day by the SEC for insider trading arising from her sales of ImClone Systems, Inc. stock on December 27, 2001”ť (Masters). Stewart sold ImClone shares before the Food and Drug Administration informed that it had reduced to review ImClone’s application for Erbitux.
Martha Stewart together with her former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic were convicted of conspiracy, obstruction and lying to federal investigators about the sale of ImClone Systems stock (Masters). It is should be underlined that according to Dan Ackman: “the Stewart verdict signals a stunning fall from grace for one of the most successful women in American business”ť (Ackman). She was not only a prosperous businesswoman but also a public face and chief spokeswoman from magazine covers. The story of this case goes back to Samuel Waksal, the chief executive of ImClone, who was found guilty in federal crimes in October 2002. Waksal and Stewart were in close relations and shared everything with Bacanovic (Ackman). Both Stewart and Bacanovic denied to federal investigators that they had any secret information from Waksal. Martha Stewart was therefore charged with lying during the trial (Ackman). Despite of all the efforts of lawyers a federal jury declared Stewart “guilty of all charges in her stock conspiracy trial, leaving the home keeping guru facing up to twenty years in prison and an uncertain future for the corporation she founded”ť (Steinhaus).
The U.S. Attorneys and the Securities and Exchange Commission were reasonable in indicting Martha Stewart.
Prosecutors Karen Patton Seymour and Michael Schachter convinced the jury problem-free that Bacanovic and Stewart arranged things so that they kept definite circumstances in secret, did not tell the truth concerning the stock trade (Steinhaus). Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kelley pointed out that: “the victims of this case are the entire American public, who rely on our system to ensure the safety of their investments”ť (Kelley). The Securities and Exchange Commission took into account the testimony of Anne Armstrong, who informed that Bacanovic left a message for Stewart before she authorized the stock sale and then changed the message in computer log. This testified that Stewart was in conspiracy with Bacanovic. She tried to delete it, Hartridge noticed: “That message was probably the basis of that case”ť(Steinhaus). This together with other peculiarities of the case proved the fact, that both were lying. Douglas Faneuil testified against Stewart and Bacanovic too, jurors could here choose if to convict them of conspiring to mislead the investigation or of making false judgments to investigators (Steinhaus). According to the article Martha is Guilty On All Accounts, Hartridge told the jurors were sure Stewart did not tell the truth, because her stock sale account did not correspond to what Bacanovic and his assistant represented (Hurtado).
Prosecutors ridiculed Stewart’s request to be released, as Stewart asked to reconsider her five months’ home confinement, Schachter commented on her wish to record several new television programs: “Minor inconvenience to one’s ability to star in a television show is an insufficient ground for resentencing”ť (Masters). Peter Bacanovic was justly convicted of four charges out of five there were against him. Stewart was discouraged with the verdict and commented on the situation: “I am obviously distressed by the jury’s verdict but I continue to take comfort in knowing that I have the confidence and enduring support of my family and friends”¦”ť (Stewart). She added that she strongly believed in the fairness of the judicial system and will finally celebrate victory. Though Stewart and Bacanovic appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission on engaging in illegal insider trading, they tried their best to prove Stewart’s fans and admirers of her successful career that she was innocent, she never pleaded guilty. Stewart pointed out that she was innocent and struggled to clear her name, but she lied and made some public believe her passionate speeches. In other words, according to Jonathan Glater, she lied to investigators at the stock sale, but instead being punished she turned it out to be an advantage (Glater).
It can be considered that Martha Stewart got entangled in her own frauds and accompanied by mass media evaluation; she thought more of how it will all influence her future prospects. In one of her interviews to journalists Martha Stewart claimed: “Someday, I hope to have the chance to talk more about all that has happened, the extraordinary people I have met here and all that I have learned”ť (Glater). Martha Stewart employed the whole event with her conviction in order to soften her image, to a certain extent, she needed that so called reincarnation in the public eye, a media personality, who managed to use all the scandal for her personal benefit (Glater).
Though Stewart agreed to pay penalties, she never pleaded herself guilty. Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months of imprisonment and five months of home confinement and probation period which lasted for two years.
Douglas Faneuil pleaded guilty for accepting remuneration from Peter Bacanovic for not testifying about Stewart’s and Bacanovic’s illegal conduct concerning the Complaint of the year 2003. Waksal was arrested in the year 2002, accused of insider trading and in summer of the year 2003 a federal grand jury sentenced Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic on nine criminal counts. Ms. Stewart was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. I consider their sentence rather appropriate, they attempted to mislead the investigation keeping in secret certain important data, they acted in collusion and, moreover, Martha Stewart never pleaded guilty.