NEW YORK (AP) — Martha Stewart met with a probation
officer and thanked viewers and readers for their support yesterday
as the board of her namesake empire met to discuss her fate.

Julie Pannuto
Martha Stewart leaves a federal court with her lawyer Robert Morvillo yesterday. Stewart was convicted Friday of lying to investigators about why she sold ImClone Systems stock. (AP PHOTO)

Stewart briefly addressed a horde of camera crews outside a
Manhattan courthouse where she spent about an hour with probation
officials who will make a sentencing recommendation for lying about
a well-timed stock sale.

“I want to thank my readers, my viewers and the Internet
users,” Stewart said as she stepped into a sport utility
vehicle. “I just want to thank everyone for their
support.”

The courthouse appearance came as stock in Martha Stewart Living
Omnimedia continued to slide and the board was gathering to discuss
her future, according to a source close to the company who spoke on
condition of anonymity. Her syndicated television show,
“Martha Stewart Living,” was taken off the air
yesterday on Viacom-owned CBS and UPN stations.

Stewart, wearing a black overcoat and carrying a Martha Stewart
Living umbrella, was accompanied by her lawyer, Robert Morvillo,
and another member of her defense team.

The remarks were her second since being convicted. As Stewart
left the courthouse on Friday after the verdict, the New York Daily
News asked her to comment on the fairness of the trial. She
replied, “The unfairness of the trial, that’s the right
comment.”

The meeting with probation officials is the first step toward
Stewart’s sentencing in June.

After a series of meetings, officials will hand up a report to
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum recommending a range
of prison time for Stewart. Most legal experts expect that to be 10
to 16 months.

The judge can allow Stewart to spend part of her sentence in a
halfway house, or in home confinement. The law also calls for up to
a $1 million fine for the four counts on which she was convicted
— conspiracy, obstructing justice and two counts of making
false statements.

Stewart, 62, and former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, 41, were
found guilty of lying to investigators about why Stewart sold her
shares of ImClone Systems stock on Dec. 27, 2001, the day before a
disappointing government report on its cancer drug Erbitux.

Stewart told investigators in April 2002 that she had no memory
of being tipped that ImClone CEO Sam Waksal was trying to sell his
shares. Morvillo later admitted in court that Stewart was
tipped.

Bacanovic also met briefly with probation officials yesterday,
but did not address reporters.

Stewart stepped down from the board of cosmetics giant Revlon
Inc. yesterday, Revlon spokeswoman Catherine Fisher confirmed. She
would not comment further. Stewart had served on Revlon’s
board since 1996.

With her conviction, the government will likely press to have
Stewart removed from the board of her own company, but the big
question is how involved she will be. Stewart’s name, now
tainted with a conviction, is stamped on a wide variety of
products, from TV shows to magazines and merchandise.

Stewart stepped down from her role as chief executive and
chairman of the board in June after being indicted, but remains as
chief creative officer and a member of the board.

Dennis McAlpine, a managing director of the research firm
McAlpine Associates, said the company has a number of options as it
digests the verdict, from Stewart taking the company private to a
complete name change.

Shares in the company continued to fall, closing yesterday at
$9.90 on the New York Stock Exchenge, down 96 cents. That added to
a nearly 23 percent tumble on Friday after the verdicts.

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