Stewart's attorneys hand over documents sought by House panel

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Attorneys for domestic marketing powerhouse Martha Stewart handed over more than a thousand pages of e-mail and phone records Tuesday to a House investigative panel examining her sale of ImClone stock.

But lawmakers heading the investigation didn't rule out issuing a subpoena to force Stewart to appear before the panel.

"It may be the only means to get her to come forward and tell her story," said Rep. James Greenwood, R-Pa., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce investigative subcommittee.

Stewart spokeswoman Allyn Magrino said lawyers delivered "over a thousand pages of documents" to Capitol Hill. The documents were received less than an hour before a 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday deadline set by lawmakers probing Stewart's stock sale.

The records included e-mail messages from Stewart's laptop computer and telephone records from Stewart's company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. Investigators will need at least two weeks to scour the documents, said Ken Johnson, committee spokesman.

One concern is that a number of pages contained information that had been redacted, or blacked out, he said.

"It raises eyebrows," Johnson said. Stewart's attorneys told the committee that the information was financial and unrelated to ImClone.

"Given the fact that this is a formal investigation, we simply can't take their word for it," he said. "We've told her attorneys that we expect them to come in our offices this week and show the original documents to our investigators."

Lawmakers are trying to determine if Stewart, before her stock sale, had information that the Food and Drug Administration was going to reject ImClone's new colon cancer drug. The company's stock subsequently plummeted. Questions remain despite an earlier letter from Stewart's attorneys denying any notice of the FDA's decision, Greenwood said.

"We feel obligated to find out if she was being straight with us or not," he said.

Another committee member said he doubted Stewart would be subpoenaed. "I'm hopeful that she and her attorneys can work with the committee staff and work it out," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told CNBC on Tuesday.

Stock sale questioned

Stewart has maintained she had an order to sell her stock when it dropped below $60 per share. The committee wants to clear up discrepancies about her account of the sale and those of her broker and his assistant.

"They are all in conflict. Clearly someone is lying to us," Johnson said. "The point is this: We will never be able to conduct a meaningful investigation in the future if people are allowed to come before the committee, lie and get away with it."

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