- The Washington Times - Friday, March 4, 2005

Domestic diva Martha Stewart yesterday spent her first morning out of jail feeding her horses, petting her dog and lamenting that the cappuccino machine was broken at her Bedford, N.Y., home.

Stewart, 63, was released from a federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va., at 12:03 a.m. yesterday after a five-month stay. She had been sentenced to the prison time at the facility, dubbed “Camp Cupcake,” and a five-month house arrest. She is still appealing her conviction.

Stewart was convicted one year ago today for lying to federal investigators in connection with the sale of 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. in December 2001, just before the stock’s value tumbled.

“Right now, as you can imagine, I am thrilled to be returning to my more familiar life,” Stewart said in a statement posted on her Web site after she was released.

Stewart, who had said she would miss her pets during her prison stay, walked her dog yesterday morning while she fed her horses.

She told reporters outside her home, whom she offered hot chocolate, that she had been dreaming of having a cappuccino, only to find her machine was broken.

By late afternoon yesterday, Stewart had not officially started her house arrest, said Chris Stanton, chief U.S. probation officer for the Southern District of New York.

Stewart has 72 hours from her release time before she must meet with probation officers and start wearing an electronic ankle bracelet that will track her whereabouts, Mr. Stanton said.

Despite being under house arrest, Stewart will be able to go to work, have dental and medical appointments, go grocery shopping and attend religious services for a maximum time of 48 hours each week, Mr. Stanton said.

She will have to send a weekly schedule to her probation officer to be approved for time spent out of her house, which is on a 153-acre estate 40 miles north of Manhattan.

When she started serving her prison time on Oct. 8, she said she had plans to be released in time for spring gardening.

Mr. Stanton said gardening will need to be part of her job to comply with the rules. “We’ll definitely consider all requests, and they will not be automatically approved or rejected,” he said.

Stewart’s home confinement is part of a two-year supervised release.

The house arrest is on a par with most cases involving obstruction-related charges, said Patrick McInerney, a partner in the government investigations and white-collar crime practice with Kansas City, Mo., law firm Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP.

“Oftentimes, the punishment is tailored to the defendant,” he said.

The home-confinement period is meant to ease Stewart back into society while testing to see whether she will obey the law, said Roscoe Howard Jr., a partner in the D.C. office of national law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

“It’s also a message to the public that even if you have the celebrity status of Martha Stewart and break the law, you will be punished and go to jail,” said Mr. Howard, who works in the firm’s white-collar defense practice group.

Convicts under house arrest generally are encouraged by the probation officer to seek or maintain a job, Mr. McInerney said.

Stewart is expected to resume her $900,000-a-year job as the creative force behind Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., her New York media company, while working on two television shows.

Those shows include a revival of her daily homemaking show and a spin-off of the popular Donald Trump reality show “The Apprentice,” which is produced by Mark Burnett.

Unlike most white-collar criminals, Stewart’s career is expected to get a lift from her prison stay, said John Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

“Other white-collar criminals should not expect the same type of prison exit. Most people in this situation will struggle to find a decent job, let alone regain their former workplace status,” Mr. Challenger said.

Mr. McInerney said Stewart will have to be careful managing her time and following the probation rules.

“It sounds like she doesn’t have a regular 9-to-5 job, so she needs to watch the clock and her schedule. Technically, any violation is grounds to return a convict to prison,” though probation officers are reasonable about minor offenses, he said.

During its founder’s five-month prison term, Martha Stewart Living’s stock more than doubled on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares closed yesterday at $30.75, down $3.20 from Thursday’s price. The stock, which reached a six-month high of $37.40 last week, is 91 percent higher than the $16.02 price when Stewart entered prison Oct. 8.

Martha Stewart Living reported a fourth-quarter loss of $7.32 million (15 cents per share) compared with profits of $2.37 million (5 cents) a year ago.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide