Stewart and her former Merrill Lynch broker, Peter Bacanovic, are accused of hiding the reason behind the celebrity homemaker’s suspicious sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock on Dec. 27, 2001.
Federal prosecutors say that Bacanovic ordered his assistant to tip Stewart that ImClone’s founder was dumping all his shares. The two defendants say they had a pre-existing deal to sell Stewart’s ImClone shares if they fell to $60.
Although each of the four counts against Stewart carries a possible maximum five-year prison term, she would most likely receive a much lighter sentence even if convicted on all counts.
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum spent more than an hour and a half reading through each of the counts contained in the indictment and the specific acts that led to the charges.
“You are to consider the charges separately against each defendant … as if that defendant were being tried alone,” Cedarbaum told the eight women and four men. “You can find one guilty without finding the other guilty.
“The fact the defendants are being tried together is not evidence of anything,” she said.