- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

NEW YORK - Martha Stewart will do time for lying about a stock sale at a remote West Virginia prison camp where inmates sleep in bunk beds and rise at 6 a.m. to do menial labor for pennies an hour.

The millionaire celebrity homemaker confirmed yesterday that she had been assigned to the minimum-security prison at Alderson, but noted that she had hoped to be sent to a facility closer to her family and attorneys.

Stewart, convicted in March of lying to investigators about a stock sale, had asked to serve her five-month prison term in Danbury, Conn., close to her 90-year-old mother and her own home in Westport.

But a source familiar with the government’s decision, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Alderson was selected because it was more remote and less accessible to the media than Danbury or Stewart’s second choice of Coleman, Fla.

Those prisons also had more serious crowding issues, the source said. The Coleman prison, for example, is crammed with inmates moved from other Florida prisons because of recent hurricanes.

Stewart, 63, must report to Alderson by Oct. 8. She was allowed to remain free while she appealed her conviction, but decided this month to serve time to put the “nightmare” behind her.

Stewart said she was pleased the government had assigned her “so quickly” to “the first federal prison camp for women in the United States.”

“I look forward to getting this behind me and to vigorously pursuing my appeal,” she said.

Inmates at Alderson typically rise about 6 a.m. and work most of the day, making 12 to 40 cents an hour at jobs such as ground maintenance, sanitation and food services, said Dan Dunne, a federal prisons spokesman.

They sleep in bunk beds in one of nine large dormitory-style rooms that house between 26 and 90 inmates per room. There are no individual cells, and the lights are turned off around 8:45 p.m. on weekdays, later on weekends, Mr. Dunne said.

It remains unclear whether Stewart will report on Oct. 8 — a federal judge set a 2 p.m. deadline that day — or arrange with prison officials to turn herself in earlier.

When she reports, she will be allowed to bring a few personal items, such as a single pair of earrings worth less than $100, a Social Security card, a limited amount of cash and a religious item approved by the warden.

Alderson, a 95-acre facility opened in 1927, houses about 1,000 inmates. Its past inhabitants include two women who tried to kill President Ford — Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore — and jazz singer Billie Holiday, who was sentenced on a drug charge.

Stewart will be on track to be released from prison in early March, and then must serve five months under house arrest at her estate in upstate Bedford, N.Y.

She and former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic were convicted in March of lying to federal investigators about why Stewart sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in December 2001.

They received the same sentence: five months in prison, plus five months of house arrest. Mr. Bacanovic, who was also allowed to stay out of prison pending appeal, has announced no plans to enter prison.

Both are expected to file papers with a federal appeals court by Oct. 20.

Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., the media company Stewart founded, fell 11 cents to close at $15.65 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The stock had shot up when Stewart announced she would serve her time.

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