Douglas Faneuil, a former assistant to Stewart’s broker at Merrill Lynch, had been expected to take the stand to testify against the lifestyle expert and her broker, Peter Bacanovic.
Stewart and Bacanovic are accused of obstructing an investigation into her sale in late 2001 of nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems Inc., a biotech company founded by her friend Sam Waksal.
Faneuil, a 28-year-old former Merrill Lynch assistant, pleaded guilty in October 2002 to misdemeanor charges of accepting perks in return for not telling the government about an alleged inside stock tip given to Stewart.
Faneuil’s testimony is seen as crucial to the government’s contention that Stewart sold her ImClone stock only after getting a tip that Waksal was trying to sell. Stewart and Bacanovic have said they had a long-standing agreement to sell the stock when it fell to $60 a share.
Cedarbaum ruled Wednesday that defense lawyers could examine the statement by Faneuil, which prosecutors had sought to have excluded. Bacanovic’s attorney said the statement raises questions about whether it was Bacanovic or Waksal who told Faneuil to tip off Stewart, and should have been given to the defense months ago.
Cedarbaum denied a defense request for a mistrial, saying the dispute over the documents could be resolved. She gave Bacanovic’s lawyer, Richard Strassberg, a week to study the new document.
“It’s very troubling, your honor,” Strassberg told Cedarbaum Thursday morning. “This (information) reflects unfairly on Mr. Bacanovic’s defense.”
Faneuil was going to be the third witness called by the prosecution, which was in its second day of presenting testimony against the home making expert who turned her skills into a media empire. The trial is now set to resume Monday with Faneuil’s testimony delayed until next Thursday, at the earliest.