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Saturday, 6 March 2004

Weighing in.

Funny how living in America, I seem to have been infected with an interest in the crucifixion of an American starlet gone bad - Martha. As you may or may not know, she has been found guilty of four charges of lying about selling shares in a biotech company a couple of years ago.

Much of the press of this week is placing Martha's crime in the same bucket as the Enrons, WorldComs and Tycos of this world. It appears to me that Martha is being shot down as if she were a commie in the Macarthy era. If we go by numbers alone, these cases are clearly incomparable.

Now - i'm not saying it's ok to break the law -- no way -- but, it seems federal prosecutors do think that these two crimes are similar, at least in terms of punishment, even though the wins/windfalls/deals, and the people/time/pieces of paper associated with each seem to be on exponentially different scales.

Former WorldCom chief executive Bernard Ebbers, was charged with orchestrating an $10 billion fraud, the biggest ever in the nation. He's looking at 25 years and a very hefty fine.

Martha's coup netted her about $45,000. She is facing up to 20 years (albeit highly unlikely).

Here we have a rich, self-made woman taking the inside track on the advice of a mate (yes, possibly conspiring), and a rich, self-made man who was ultimately responsible for an "accounting fraud [that] topped $9 billion".

In his defense of Martha the dastardly criminal, attorney Robert G. Morvillo closes with an almost laughable exposition of the level of sophistication of this 'deal':

So what you have here is the two conspirators [Peter Bacanovic and Martha Stewart] forgetting to tell each other the crucial element of the conspiracy. When did it take place?

Everyone in America has an opinion, because Martha is headline news -- but love her or hate her, i'm pleased to see that marthastewartliving.com is still powering ahead, and that the About Martha section doesn't mention anything about this nasty tall poppy vilification that's goin' on.

Are we comparing apples with apples here, people? Or is it the world's biggest pumpkin with a vial of rosewater?

Posted at 9:48 pm
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