Emily Perret, a former secretary to the now-jailed Waksal, said Stewart was “very hurried and harsh and direct” in the call on Dec. 27, 2001.
Perret said she answered that she did not know why the stock was falling and would leave a message for Waksal to call Stewart back.
The government says the call happened just after Stewart sold 3,928 shares of ImClone stock — the sale that triggered the investigation that now has Stewart on trial for obstruction of justice and securities fraud.
Stewart and her co-defendant, ex-stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, are accused of concocting a false story that they had a pre-existing agreement to sell her stable of shares of ImClone if the stock fell below $60.
Prosecutors say Bacanovic actually told his assistant, Douglas Faneuil, to pass a tip to Stewart that the Waksal family was trying to sell its shares.
Waksal has admitted he had advance knowledge of a negative government report about an ImClone cancer drug, not released publicly until Dec. 28, that sent ImClone shares into a sharp decline.
On cross-examination, Perret was asked by Stewart’s attorney whether the harsh tone was any different from the way Stewart usually sounded when she called to speak to Waksal.
“No, most of the time it was the same,” Perret said. She also said that Stewart did not use words like “urgent” or “important” in leaving the message.
The government also put into evidence Perret’s computerized log of Stewart’s call that day: “Martha Stewart something is going on with ImClone and she wants to know what.”
The defense has pointed out that Stewart’s shares were just a small fraction of the millions of ImClone shares that changed hands that day, and that Stewart’s call to Waksal was a reasonable thing for a savvy investor to do.
In court Monday, Stewart wore a bright orange jacket and black pants — a change from the dark browns and other muted colors she has favored since the trial began. Rosie O’Donnell came to court to watch the afternoon session, sitting in the first row behind Stewart.
Another witness testified Monday that Bacanovic initially told investigators that he personally spoke to Stewart on the day she executed the stock sale.