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3.07.2004

"Alex, I'm filthy rich. I don't need your chump change." 

The verdict is in for Martha Stewart and her broker Peter Bacanovic. Stewart was found guilty of making false statements (primarily that she and Bacanovic arranged to sell her ImClone stock once it fell below $60), of obstructing justice in the investigation of the sale of her stock, and of conspiring to commit same acts. Bacanovic was also found guilty of those charges as well as committing perjury, but ironically was acquitted of the charge to doctor a paper to support the $60 strike price alibi.

The most serious charge against Stewart -- securities fraud, ostensibly because she propped up the value of her business enterprise by falsely claiming that she was cooperating with authorities throughout the investigation -- was thrown out by the judge. Apparently Stewart was never charged with wrongdoing in the actual sale of the ImClone stock. There wasn't even that much money involved -- most estimates say that Stewart saved about $51,000 by selling early.

It's not entirely clear what message is being sent here by the government or to whom it's being sent -- is it that if you're a celebrity, and your stockbroker gives you an illegal insider tip, you have to pretend you didn't hear it? Hmm.

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