NEW YORK, May 30, 2004 – LAWFUEL- As her sentencing day approaches, Martha
Stewart has come up with a plan to stay out of jail or at least get out early.
Newsweek has learned that Stewart will seek to serve all or part of her jail
sentence helping underprivileged women start their own businesses.
She recently approached the Women’s Venture Fund, a New York nonprofit,
offering to work 20 hours a week teaching low-income and minority women to
become entrepreneurs, Newsweek reports in the current issue. And she even
created her own curriculum to teach the art and science of cleaning. “Can you
imagine if we had graduates of the Martha Stewart cleaning program bidding for
contracts cleaning Hilton Hotels?” Women’s Venture Fund President Maria Otero
tells Detroit Bureau Chief Keith Naughton in the June 7 issue (on newsstands
Monday, May 31). Sources close to the case confirm Stewart’s strategy.
Naughton reports that Stewart called Otero about a month ago for a
meeting. When she arrived at WVF’s offices, she brought along her newly hired
“sentencing consultant,” Herb Hoelter, known as the get-out-of-jail guy to the
stars. Stewart then pitched herself for 90 minutes. “She had a need to sell
herself,” Otero says. Stewart’s plan called for her to work at WVF 10 to 20
hours a week for one or two years. She would teach classes on how to start and
run a business, as well as mentor a handful of women one-on-one. Martha, after
all, built a $250 million company from a small catering outfit. The cleaning-
service idea comes from Stewart’s own experience of having difficulty finding
employees to clean her estates.
Stewart’s well-crafted proposal overcame Otero’s fear of associating with
such a controversial figure. “Her conviction has nothing to do with her
entrepreneurial skills,” says Otero. Last week, Otero wrote a three-page
letter, which Stewart’s lawyers plan to forward to Judge Miriam Cedarbaum,
explaining how Martha would be a boon to the women seeking to follow her
example in business (if not in stock trading). A Stewart rep declined comment
and Hoelter didn’t respond to an inquiry.