While Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic grapple with their convictions, former government prosecutors around the country said they weren't surprised by the verdict, and expect the two will draw prison terms above minimum guidelines.

Despite a prosecution effort that failed to hang a criminal insider-trading charge on Stewart and saw a count of securities fraud tossed by U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, top litigators claimed they foresaw the outcome.

"The government should win every one of these cases they bring," said Stephen Ryan, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner in the Washington office of Los Angeles law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "They should never bring it unless it's a great case."

"The really interesting issue is that this is an obstruction case not unlike the Arthur Andersen case, proving that what you do afterward may be more important than what you did," he says.

Charges of making false statements, obstructing justice and perjury were layups, said Jim Walden, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner in the New York office of O'Melveny & Myers. But assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Seymour and her team, worked alchemy on the conspiracy count.

"I think the government pulled the rabbit out of the hat with the conspiracy case," he says. He had expected a hung jury or acquittal on the charge, because he says a jury could have believed Stewart's Jan. 31 decision to edit then restore a phone message from Peter Bacanovic showed a guilt-free conscience.

Emotional testimony from Stewart's personal assistant, Ann Armstrong, was a critical factor in convincing the jury of Stewart's guilt and in bolstering the credibility of star government witness Douglas Faneuil, who worked as Bacanovic's assistant at Merrill Lynch ( MER).

"Without Faneuil, no jury could have convicted on Armstrong's testimony alone," Walden said.

While Stewart never had the chance to explain her actions on the witness stand, the ex-prosecutors say her absence could mitigate her sentence when it is handed down June 17.

"Judges do not like people perjuring themselves and lying in their courtrooms," Ryan says. "They tend to visit that upon them in sentencing."

While the total penalty for each set of crimes adds up to nearly 20 years for each defendant, sentences for these types of crimes are usually served concurrently.

Walden says his reading of federal sentencing guidelines -- a complicated set of rules that assign penalties to each crime and then allow for reductions and additions to a range of time -- will see Stewart and Bacanovic do more than minimum time.

Each defendant will draw a little more than two years at the minimum. "If they get the benefit of all the breaks, they could get 27 to 33 months," says Walden. "If the government gets the most draconian set of guidelines, the assumption is between 46 and 57 months."

Ryan says the prison sentence increases the chance that Stewart will simply negotiate a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over civil charges of insider trading.

After sentencing, Stewart and Bacanovic will likely remain free on bail until they appeal their cases, though Ryan says there are no compelling legal issues that help their chances of overturning their verdicts.

Walden says Stewart will be able to request that she serve her term in a federal minimum security prison in Danbury, Conn., near her home, but that the federal Bureau of Prisons has final authority on where Stewart will decorate her cell. She won't have to think of tasteful touches for concrete and orange jumpsuits for some time, he says.

"I think she will need to readjust her sensibilities by some time mid- to late next year," he said.

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