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Saturday, June 07, 2003

Stamfords Advocate: Authorities Have Pushed

Stamfords Advocate: Authorities Have Pushed Stewart Case ғPossibly Beyond Point of Reason
StamfordԒs The Advocate, in an editorial in Sundays edition, says federal authorities have pushed the Martha Stewart case ғawfully hard and in one regard, possibly beyond the point of reason.֔

If you make billions teaching people to be considerate hosts, thoughtful friends and attentive parents, then you should expect a little additional scrutiny in the personal integrity department,Ӕ the newspaper said.

It then cited Stewart’s insider-trading indictments and said the firestormӔ over the federal action is hardly surprising.

With that understood, we think the authorities have pushed this case awfully hard—and in one regard, possibly beyond the point of reason.Ӕ

The editorial said Stewarts sale of ImClone stock helped her avoid a $45,000 loss and added:

ҔThat’s peanuts compared to hundreds of millions in losses covered up on the company books at WorldCom, and a pittance when you consider the multibillion-dollar losses resulting from the accounting scandal at Enron.

Yet those top executives have yet to be charged with anything, while Ms. Stewart was the subject of a very public investigation for more than a year.

ӓIf convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $2 million fine. You have to wonder if the government’s priorities are straight.

One of the charges in particular seems to be a stretch. Prosecutors claim that Ms. Stewart effectively misled shareholders of her own company, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, when she lied to investigators about the circumstances surrounding the ImClone sale, because her fate is central to that of her signature company.

ԓIt’s a tough connection to make, and only time will tell whether the government is successful. Ms. Stewart has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and the case is headed to court.


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