Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Farrell on Reval: Ryan Firm Will Continue, May Appoint Special Panel

Westport First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell said today the firm which carried out the now postponed and controversial 2003 property assessment will continue to work on the list.

She also said she is considering appointing a special “working” committee to help ensure that the next version of the list is as complete and fair as possible.

In an interview with WestportNow, the Westport chief executive said her decision announced Thursday to seek state permission to postpone implementation of the state-mandated reval was not a difficult one once she had all the information.

“Once I got the complete list Wednesday afternoon, it quickly became apparent it was going to take much longer to refine than I had thought,” she said.

Stewart: “I Am Distressed But Will Appeal and Fight to Clear My Name”

In a “Dear Friends” letter posted on her Web site, Westport’s Martha Stewart said she is distressed by today’s jury verdict but will fight to clear her name.marthatalks030504sm.jpg

“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,” Stewart said.

“I will appeal the verdict and continue to fight to clear my name. I believe in the fairness of the judicial system and remain confident that I will ultimately prevail.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the words of encouragement I have received from thousands of supporters.

“It is your continued support that will keep me going until I am completely exonerated.”

Martha Stewart Guilty Verdict Brings Media to Westport for Reaction

News that Westport’s Martha Stewart and her former stockbroker were found guilty in their federal stock fraud trial brought members of the media scurrying to her hometown looking for reaction.
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A television satellite news truck takes up a position outside Westport Town Hall following the Martha Stewart verdict. WestportNow.com photo

On a drizzly Friday afternoon, however, reaction was not easy to come by.

Photographers and camera crews gathered outside Stewart’s Turkey Hill Road South home on chances that she would return there this evening. They found a private security guard in a red SUV sitting in her driveway.

The Westport Police Department stepped up patrols in the area but, as in the past with developments in the Stewart case, did not place a patrol car there, a police source said.

A New York TV station reported that Stewart left the courthouse and returned to a lower Manhattan building where her daughter has a penthouse apartment.

Martha Stewart Guilty Verdict Brings Media to Westport for Reaction

News that Westport’s Martha Stewart and her former stockbroker were found guilty in their federal stock fraud trial brought members of the media scurrying to her hometown looking for reaction.
tvvan03050401.jpg
A television satellite news truck takes up a position outside Westport Town Hall following the Martha Stewart verdict. WestportNow.com photo

On a drizzly Friday afternoon, however, reaction was not easy to come by.

Photographers and camera crews gathered outside Stewart’s Turkey Hill Road South home on chances that she would return there this evening. They found a private security guard in a red SUV sitting in her driveway.

The Westport Police Department stepped up patrols in the area but, as in the past with developments in the Stewart case, did not place a patrol car there, a police source said.

A New York TV station reported that Stewart left the courthouse and returned to a lower Manhattan building where her daughter has a penthouse apartment.

Martha Stewart Trial: Stewart Guilty on All Counts

A federal jury today found Westport’s Martha Stewart guilty of lying to investigators over a suspicious stock sale.

Stewart, 62, stood stone still in the courtroom and showed no emotion as she heard the verdict, which ended a seven week trial. She later said she would appeal.marthachows.jpg
Martha with Paw Paw and Tutu on steps of her Westport home. Marthatalks.com photo

She remains free but was ordered to report to the Probation Department Monday.

The eight women and four men returned their verdict on the third day of deliberations. Stewart was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of agency proceedings.

Wearing a black pantsuit, Stewart solemnly left the courthouse among a throng of hundreds of people and a small group chanting “We Love you Martha.”

She will be sentenced on June 17. Each count carries a possible prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, although legal experts believe Stewart will receive a sentence of less than five years, perhaps only 18 months, based on federal sentencing guidelines.

Westport Democrats Elect Officers

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The Westport Democratic Town Committee met Thursday night to elect officers and appoint district leaders. They included (l to r) Martha Aasen, re-elected DTC chair after serving in that role for eight years, Lynn Hogan, secretary; and Mark Marcus, vice chairman. Not shown is new treasurer Gerald Bodell, who replaced outgoing treasurer Barbara Schwimmer. WestportNow.com photo

Farrell Seeks to Postpone Reval for a Year, Puts Assessor on Leave

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell announced today she will seek a one-year delay in implementing the town’s property assessment and has placed Assessor Glenn Werfelman on a 30-day leave of absence.

It was a stunning and unexpected—vote of no-confidence in the controversial assessment and the official who oversaw it.

It was Werfelman who had failed to inform her of a backlog in paperwork in his office affecting the reval that went back at least five years.

The announcement gave no official reason for putting him on leave, but he is known to have been under severe strain in recent weeks.

Farrell’s action, announced in a news release, followed by 24 hours a citizens brown bag lunch that may have been her toughest since coming into office in 1997.

For more than 90 minutes, resident after resident complained that an updated version of the property valuation list was still unfair. A number of them said they had not had a problem with their valuation until receiving new notices this week.

The release made no direct reference to citizen complaints, merely saying that the list required “too many refinements to meet the time frame for implementation prescribed by state statute.”

Martha Stewart Trial: Second Day of Deliberations

Jurors at the trial of Westports Martha Stewart stock trial finished a second day of deliberations today after indicating they were focused on a charge of perjury against StewartҒs former stockbroker.

In a note to the judge before wrapping up for the day, the jurors asked about the standards of evidence required to convict on the count.

It accuses Peter Bacanovic of lying in sworn testimony to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 13, 2002, about Stewart’s sale of ImClone Systems stock.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum told jurors before deliberations that perjury requires special rules: Jurors must rely on testimony from two witnesses, or one witness whose testimony is supported by a document.

Deliberations were expected to resume Friday morning.