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U.S. Opposes New Martha Stewart Trial

June 25, 2004|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — The government urged a federal judge Thursday to reject Martha Stewart's latest bid for a new trial based on charges that a Secret Service ink expert lied on the witness stand.

Federal prosecutors filed court papers saying the testimony of Larry F. Stewart had no effect on the jury's guilty verdict against the executive and former stockbroker Peter E. Bacanovic.

"There was overwhelming evidence of the defendants' guilt on the counts of conviction, and that evidence was wholly independent of Mr. Stewart's testimony," the prosecutors wrote.

Larry Stewart, who is no relation to Martha Stewart, testified about ink analysis of a worksheet prepared by Bacanovic that reflected stocks in Martha Stewart's portfolio. Prosecutors say he lied by saying he took part in the ink testing. Bacanovic was acquitted of a charge of doctoring the worksheet.

In its court filing, the government said defendants seeking new trials must meet the legal standard of showing that a jury "probably" would have acquitted if it had not heard the false testimony.

"The defendants fall short of meeting this heavy burden," the prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors also rejected accusations that they should have known about the alleged lies told by Larry Stewart.

Martha Stewart and Bacanovic are scheduled to be sentenced July 8. They were convicted of lying about why she sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in December 2001.

Lawyers for Martha Stewart and Bacanovic will have a chance to file responses to the government before U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum rules on the new-trial requests.

Larry Stewart has pleaded not guilty to perjury charges.

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