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AP: Westport Martha Stewart Reaction Mixed

Reaction to Martha Stewart’s sentencing today in her hometown of Westport was mixed, according to AP reporter John Christoffersen.

In a Westport-datelined dispatch, he wrote:

“Martha Stewart is not the most popular figure in the shoreline town where she began the catering business that would eventually turn her into America’s most famous homemaking expert.

“But while some described her as a cold or unpleasant neighbor, few said they were happy to see her sentenced to prison on Friday.

“Susan Weinberg was disappointed when she heard Stewart was sentenced to five months in federal prison and five months of house arrest for lying about a stock sale. Weinberg said she didn’t think any jail time was appropriate.

“‘I think they made an example of her,’ Weinberg said. ‘I’m expecting the five months she is under house arrest, we’re going to see amazing things from Martha Stewart. This is not going to bury Martha Stewart.’

The AP writer also quoted Kay Nudelman who he said was shopping for luggage at a store occasionally visited by Stewart. She said she had little sympathy for Stewart and called the sentence a “slap on the wrist.”

“When does all this dishonesty stop?,” Nudelman said. “It’s typical of her with her sense of entitlement. She thinks she can do things her way.”

In a later update of the story, the AP said: “Martha Stewart helped give this prosperous town cachet as she built a local catering business into an empire showcasing domestic perfection, but a few years ago she threatened to move out, saying Westport had lost its charm.

“Stewart bought an estate in Bedford, N.Y., but kept a home and her TV studio here.”

The AP reported that “Stewart’s criticism in 2000 that Westport had become a ‘more elitist, and much less charming’ place to live did not endear her to a town that is also home to actor Paul Newman, singer Michael Bolton and other celebrities and business executives.”

“She’s not the hometown hero,” Cristin Marandino, executive editor of Westport Magazine, told The AP “I don’t get the sense it’s one of our own being taken away. If it were Paul Newman it would be a different story.”

The story said, “For years, Stewart has built a dual reputation in this town. To some, she is a revered symbol of the good life; to others, a pompous and unpleasant neighbor.

“On Friday, some viewed her sentence as reasonable or too lenient, while others in town say Stewart was made a scapegoat.”

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