July 16, 2004 08:00 AM

Martha Stewart is due in Manhattan federal court Friday at 10 a.m. to learn of her fate from Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who is expected to sentence the domestic diva to between 10 and 16 months in prison for her conviction on four counts of conspiracy and lying to investigators about a stock sale.

Stewart’s stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, will be sentenced at 2:30 p.m., as his lawyers requested, as a means to distance himself from the overpowering celebrity of Stewart. Bacanovic, 41, was convicted of the same four charges stemming from Stewart’s dumping of nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems shares in 2001 before their value plummeted.

As expected, there was some last-minute, behind-the-scenes drama in the high-profile case, with The New York Times reporting that this week Cedarbaum refused to declare federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional, as Stewart’s lawyers had requested.

These guidelines suggest the 10- to 16-month sentence for those convicted of crimes similar to those committed by Stewart and Bacanovic and who have no prior criminal record and do not pose a threat to society.

A pal of Bacanovic’s, celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan, told the New York Post that the ex-Merrill Lynch employee told him that he expects to receive a “five-and-five” sentence – five months in prison and five on probation. A spokesman for Bacanovic, who has been living in California to escape the media spotlight, declined comment.

Should Stewart, 62, be sent to prison (fans have petitioned Cedarbaum not to go that route, calling a Stewart incarceration a waste of taxpayer money), the likely location, say most legal observers, is the women’s prison in Danbury, Conn. There, she would likely have to share her cell with another inmate, would have her own locker but a shared writing space and would be using communal bathrooms.

The Bureau of Prisons, not Cedarbaum, is responsible for deciding when Stewart and Bacanovic are to begin their sentences. Experts say that from sentencing day, it could be another six to nine months before they would go to prison, giving them time for their appeals.

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