A federal judge denies the request, paving the way for sentencing next week

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 08, 2004 01:00 PM

Martha Stewart and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, will not be granted new trials, despite requests by both their lawyers based on perjury allegations, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Manhattan.

The sentencing date for Stewart, 62, and Bacanovic, 41, who were convicted in March for lying about a 2001 ImClone Systems Inc. stock sale, will remain July 16.

Stewart’s lawyer Robert Morvillo said in a statement that he was disappointed but plans to appeal the verdict.

At issue in the request for a new trial were charges of lying brought against a chief prosecution witness, Secret Service ink expert Larry Stewart (no relation to Martha). The government has accused him of being untruthful when he testified that he took part in ink analysis testing of a stock worksheet that was a key piece of evidence.

But U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, in her ruling, concluded there was “no reasonable likelihood that this perjury could have affected the jury’s verdict.”

The judge added that “overwhelming independent evidence” supports the guilty outcome and that Martha Stewart’s lawyers failed to show any negligence on the part of prosecutors.

Several legal scholars, however, suggested that any attempt for a new trial by the domestic diva and the ex-Merrill Lynch employee would be a long shot, given that jurors had acquitted Bacanovic of a charge of doctoring the worksheet.

Legal experts have also speculated that each will likely receive 10 to 16 months in prison.