May 21, 2004 04:25 PM

A government witness whose testimony helped lead to the conviction of Martha Stewart now has been charged with perjury and faces jail time, federal authorities said Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it had uncovered eight false statements from ink expert Larry Stewart (no relation to Martha) during his testimony about a worksheet prepared by Peter Bacanovic, Stewart’s stockbroker.

Larry Stewart, who’s an employee of the Secret Service, claimed he had been involved in an August 2002 examination of the worksheet and was knowledgeable about a book proposal on ink analysis, the Associated Press reports.

But the U.S. Attorney’s Office says Stewart had no knowledge of the proposal.

Stewart’s testimony was intended to show that an “at 60” notation Bacanovic made on a worksheet connected to Martha Stewart selling 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems stock in 2001 (before the stock price plunged) was different from ink Bacanovic used to notate other marks on the worksheet. Bacanovic was cleared on the charge that he added the “at 60” to cover for Stewart selling the stock.

The Bethesda, Md.-based ink expert surrendered to federal agents earlier Friday and has been suspended from his job in the Secret Service, U.S. Attorney David Kelley said, according to AP. The two perjury counts against Stewart carry up to 10 years in prison.

“We are quite confident that the false testimony will have no impact on the convictions of Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic, for both factual and legal reasons,” Kelley said in a statement.

Martha Stewart is due to be sentenced June 17, and she faces 10 to 16 months in prison.

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