February 24, 2004 11:47 AM

Martha Stewart’s defense received another boost Monday when a business manager for the domestic diva testified that Stewart and broker Peter Bacanovic had made plans to sell Stewart’s ImClone Systems stock if the price fell to $60 weeks before she actually unloaded the troublesome shares.

Heidi DeLuca, a business manager for Stewart, said Bacanovic had told her on Nov. 8, 2001, that Stewart should get rid of the shares if they fell to $60, the Associated Press reports. “(Bacanovic) told me he felt ImClone was a dog,” DeLuca testified. “He felt he could set a floor price of $60 or $61 just in case the stock continued to fall, as a safeguard.”

Her testimony counters prosecutors’ claim that Bacanovic tipped off Stewart that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was selling his shares — which prompted her to sell her nearly 4,000 shares as well. They maintain that Stewart and the broker then cooked up a story as to why she sold the stock. Both she and Bacanovic are charged with lying to prosecutors, and Stewart is charged with securities fraud as well.

But DeLuca’s testimony supports earlier statements by Stewart and Bacanovic that they had a previous agreement to sell ImClone when it fell to a certain price.

Also on Monday, an attorney for prosecution witness Douglas Faneuil took the stand to back up some of Faneuil’s testimony. Faneuil, a former assistant to Bacanovic, claims that he passed the tip from his boss to Stewart regarding Waksal’s sale of his shares.

Stewart’s lawyers requested that U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum throw out the charges facing their client Monday. Attorneys for the domestic diva say the prosecution has failed to prove its case, and they urged Judge Cedarbaum to dismiss the charges. The judge said she would rule on that motion later, although a complete dismissal is unlikely, Reuters reports.

On Friday the prosecution rested its case. The defense is considering whether to have Stewart or Bacanovic take the stand, though it seems unlikely either one will. The defense could rest its case as early as the end of the week.

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