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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Judge Denies Application Involving Martha Stewart Trial Ink Expert

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A federal judge in Manhattan today declined to throw out perjury charges against the ink expert who testified at the trial of Westport’s Martha Stewart about a stock worksheet that was used as evidence.

Stewart and former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, sentenced to five months in prison apiece for lying about a stock sale by the celebrity homemaker, used the alleged lies to argue unsuccessfully for new trials.

Larry Stewart, no relation to Martha Stewart, is accused of lying repeatedly on the witness stand, mainly by exaggerating his role in ink-analysis testing of the worksheet.

His lawyers say the Secret Service ink expert stands by his testimony, and also argued that his alleged perjury was not “material” to the jury’s consideration of the case. The judge disagreed.

“Whether an expert witness was personally involved in the conduct of the testing is obviously something that would be significant to a jury, to the jury’s evaluation of the testing,” said Judge Denny Chin of Manhattan federal court.

Chin also refused to move the trial from New York to Washington, where Larry Stewart lives.

The government, in arguing against a new trial for Martha Stewart, repeatedly said the alleged lies by Larry Stewart would not have swayed the jury.

But Chin found that argument “is really an apples-and-oranges comparison” because the legal standards are different for perjury and for granting new trials.

Larry Stewart remains on “indefinite suspension” from the Secret Service, said his lawyer Judith Wheat. The rulings pave the way for the case to go to trial Sept. 20.

Asked outside court whether he had anything to say, Larry Stewart said: “Lots. I can’t.”

Martha Stewart and Bacanovic were each sentenced last month to five months in prison and five months of house arrest for lying about why she sold ImClone Systems Inc. stock in 2001. They are free pending appeal.

Posted 08/11 at 10:12 PM
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