NEW YORK (AP) — An ink expert who testified for the government at the Martha Stewart trial was found not guilty yesterday of repeatedly lying on the witness stand.
A federal jury in Manhattan deliberated about seven hours over two days before acquitting Secret Service scientist Larry Stewart — no relation to the millionaire domestic doyenne — of two counts of perjury.
“Mr. Stewart, good luck to you,” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin told the defendant. The scientist appeared to lose color in his face as the verdict was read, and hugged his lawyers when it was complete.
With tears in his eyes, Mr. Stewart told reporters that the ordeal had been “long, expensive and painful” and said it was difficult being on the other side of “a system I’ve worked for diligently for 25 years.”
Mr. Stewart, 48, has been on suspension from the Secret Service since he was indicted earlier this year. Asked whether he wanted his job back, he said: “Not that job. I don’t want it.”
Federal prosecutors accused Mr. Stewart of exaggerating the role he played in ink-analysis testing of a stock worksheet that was used as a piece of evidence against Martha Stewart and her stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic.
The two were convicted in March of lying to investigators about why she sold stock in 2001. Martha Stewart, who is appealing her case, has decided to begin serving a five-month prison term later this week.
The government contended that Susan Fortunato, who worked for Mr. Stewart at the Secret Service, had actually conducted the tests in the summer of 2002 and January 2004.
At trial, Miss Fortunato bolstered the government case and also testified that Mr. Stewart once confronted her after an office meeting and kissed her. She complained to her supervisors but later withdrew the accusation.
Three members of the jury who spoke to reporters after delivering the not-guilty verdict said they doubted Miss Fortunato’s credibility as a witness.
“For most of us, it was the fact that she did have an ax to grind,” said juror Judith Robinson Brodsky, an insurance broker who lives in Manhattan.