- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Martha Stewart says she sometimes has a bad temper — but insists that she is not guilty and should not be lumped with massive corporate-fraud cases such as Enron and WorldCom.

“What I did was not against the rules,” Mrs. Stewart told ABC’s “20/20” in an interview airing tomorrow. The network released excerpts yesterday.

Asked whether she ever thought she would be considered a corporate criminal, mentioned in the same breath as Enron and WorldCom, Mrs. Stewart said: “Absolutely not, and I certainly don’t belong in that category.”

The maven of gracious living goes to trial on Jan. 12 on charges she obstructed justice and lied to investigators about her sale of ImClone Systems stock on Dec. 27, 2001.

The government contends she was tipped that the family of ImClone founder Sam Waksal was trying to sell its shares. A negative government report the next day sent ImClone shares tumbling. Mrs. Stewart, 62, maintains that she had a standing order to sell the stock if it fell below a certain price.

In the “20/20” interview, Mrs. Stewart said she “sometimes, but not always” has a bad temper and occasionally can be insensitive and driven. But she said she does not know why some of the public does not like her.

“Those traits and that behavior, if it were applied to a man, would be admirable. Applied to a woman, you know,” it’s not considered admirable, said Mrs. Stewart, with the ABC transcript saying she used a vulgar epithet.

The excerpts were released as Manhattan federal prosecutors filed court papers urging the judge overseeing the case to preserve all five counts in the criminal indictment of Mrs. Stewart, which was returned in June.

Mrs. Stewart had asked U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum to dismiss an obstruction-of-justice charge and a securities-fraud charge. The charges carry a maximum prison term of 30 years, although Mrs. Stewart would get far less under federal sentencing guidelines if convicted.

Mrs. Stewart told ABC the criminal prosecution has been the most difficult part of her life. Prodded by Barbara Walters, she skewed her trademark phrase to describe the ordeal: “It is not a good thing.”

The homemaking guru also reflected about her awkward appearance on a CBS morning show in 2002, when she methodically chopped salad with a large knife while declining to answer questions about her stock sale.

“To tell you the truth, I have not been able to chop a cabbage since,” Mrs. Stewart said. “No more coleslaw for me.”

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