Martha Stewart Fails in Appeals to Washington

Martha Stewart's attempts to get higher-ups at the Justice Department to intervene with the U.S. Attorneys' Office in New York has failed. Justice Department officials refused to meet with her representatives.

Experts say it is likely the local federal proseuctors made Stewart a final plea offer, and that she wanted to go above them. They speculate the offer could involve jail time.

The terms of the proposed settlement have not been made public. But the government has been veering away from insider trading charges to the lesser offence of obstructing an investigation, according to people familiar with negotiations.

That would still have serious consequences: federal sentencing guidelines mean that Ms Stewart could face prison time. A criminal plea would also prevent her from serving as an officer of her publicly-held company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

The case could be settled this week. The prosecutors might yet elect to refer the case to the SEC for civil charges. We hope so. We can't imagine any benefit to the public of Ms. Stewart going to jail. Good luck, Martha.

Update: Several readers posted comments to this post, they got lost in the server move. Sorry about that. If you feel like, post some more.

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