Martha Stewart's lawyers filed a motion today for a new trial based on the charge of perjury made by the government against its own expert witness, Secret Service official Larry Stewart, who was indicted yesterday.
The motion says that perjured testimony was vital to the prosecution's case and was used to substantiate the government's claim that Martha Stewart and her ex-broker, Peter Bacanovic, did not agree to a $60 target price for her shares in
days before her sale.
Stewart attorneys Robert G. Morvillo and John J. Tigue, called it "scandalous" that several Secret Service officials in the courtroom were aware of the perjury at the time but failed to bring it to the attention of the court.
The judge in the Martha Stewart case has pushed back the home design diva's sentencing date three weeks in order to weigh her motion for a new trial.
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum was set to sentence Stewart on June 17, but will now decide on Stewart's prison term on July 8 at 10 a.m. EDT.
Larry Stewart, the chief forensic scientist for the Secret Service, wasn't present at an initial examination of the spreadsheet in August 2002, despite testifying that he was involved in each forensic inspection of the document, the government alleged. He is charged with two counts of perjury.
The Stewart legal team had previously filed a motion for a new trial based upon the false statements of juror Chappell Hartridge during jury qualification. Stewart's lawyers invoked the juror again in their most recent statement by asking when the government will investigate Hartridge "or will it continue in its ostrich-like posture?"
Martha Stewart and Bacanovic, her former Merrill Lynch broker, were convicted March 5 of lying to the government about Stewart's well-timed sale of about 4,000 shares of
in December 2001. The founder of
Martha Stewart Omnimedia
was convicted on all four counts in the obstruction of justice case. Bacanovic is also awaiting sentencing next month.
Among other things, Bacanovic was charged with altering a spreadsheet record of Stewart's stock sales, an allegation supported by the testimony of Larry Stewart, who told the court on Feb. 19 that the ink used to make a notation on the sheet was different from other ink on the page. Oddly enough, making and using false documents was the one count on which Bacanovic was ultimately acquitted.
In March, Stewart resigned as an officer and director of the company she founded, but maintained a role by assuming the newly created post of "founding editorial director."
Shares of Martha Stewart Omnimedia last traded up 3 cents, or 0.3%, at $9.48.