Martha Helen Stewart (born August 3, 1941) is an American business magnate, television host, author and magazine publisher. As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has gained success through a variety of business ventures, encompassing publishing, broadcasting, and merchandising. Stewart's syndicated talk show,Martha, is broadcast throughout the world, she has written numerous bestselling books, and she is the publisher of Martha Stewart Living magazine.
In 2001, Stewart was named the third most powerful woman in America by Ladies Home Journal.
In 2004, she was convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale and served five months in prison. Stewart began a strong comeback campaign in 2005, with her company returning to profitability in 2006.
Stock trading case and conviction
According to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Stewart avoided a loss of $45,673 by selling all 3,928 shares of her ImClone stock in late 2001. The day following her sale, the stock value fell 18%.
In the months that followed, Stewart drew heavy media scrutiny, including a Newsweek cover, headlined as "Martha's Mess." Notably, CBS anchor Jane Clayson grilled Stewart on the air June 25, 2002 about ImClone during her regular segment on The Early Show. Stewart tensely continued chopping cabbage and famously quipped, "I just want to focus on my salad."
October 3, 2002, Martha Stewart resigned her position, held for four months, on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, following a deal prosecutors made with Douglas Faneuil, assistant to Merrill Lynch broker Peter Bacanovic.
On June 4, 2003, Stewart was indicted by the government on nine-counts including charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Stewart voluntarily stepped down as CEO and Chairwoman of MSLO but stayed on as chief creative officer. She went on trial in January 2004. Prosecutors showed that Bacanovic ordered his assistant to tell Stewart that the CEO of ImClone, Samuel D. Waksal, was selling all his shares in advance of an adverse Food and Drug Administration ruling. The FDA action was expected to cause ImClone shares to decline. After a highly publicized, five-week jury trial that was the most closely watched of a wave of corporate fraud trials, Stewart was found guilty in March 2004 of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators and sentenced in July 2004 to serve a five month term in a federal correctional facility and a two year period of supervised release (to include five months of home confinement).
Stewart agreed in September 2004 to begin serving a five-month prison term while her appeal was still pending. In October 2004, she reported to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. She was released on March 4, 2005, after which she was placed under home confinement and required to wear an ankle bracelet for an additional 5 months.
Bacanovic and Waksal were also convicted of federal charges and sentenced to prison terms. Stewart also paid a fine of $30,000.
In August 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had agreed to settle the related civil case against Stewart. Under the settlement, Stewart agreed to a five-year bar from serving as a director, or as the CEO, CFO (or other officer roles in which she would be responsible for preparing, auditing, or disclosing financial results), of any public company. In June 2008, the UK Border Agency refused to grant her a visa to enter the United Kingdom because of her criminal conviction for obstructing justice. She had been planning to speak at the Royal Academy on fashion and leisure industry matters.
Stewart currently resides in Katonah, New York, a hamlet of Bedford, New York. She also maintains a residence on Mount Desert Island in Maine.