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Martha Stewart thanks fans
Home decor expert makes first in-person comments since verdicts, quits Revlon board.
March 8, 2004: 5:24 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN) - Martha Stewart thanked her fans for their support Monday and resigned from the board of cosmetics giant Revlon after being convicted last week on obstruction of justice charges.

Stewart also met with a probation officer who will prepare a presentence report -- the first step toward her June sentencing.

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Martha Stewart meets with probation officers after having been convicted on all four counts against her. CNNfn's Mary Snow reports.

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"I just want to thank my readers, my viewers, my Internet users," she said upon leaving the courthouse Monday morning. "I just want to thank everyone for their support."

Stewart, 62, wore a black coat and toted a black umbrella that she used earlier to fend off wet snow.

She was convicted of obstruction of justice and three other counts Friday. Each count carries up to five years in prison, but since Stewart has no prior criminal history, federal sentencing guidelines recommend sentences ranging from a year to two years.

In the aftermath, Viacom announced it was dropping Stewart's television show, "Martha Stewart Living," from its CBS and UPN television networks.

She submitted her resignation from the board of directors of Revlon, that company announced in a brief statement Monday.

And a person familiar with the situation said the board of directors of Stewart's company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, will meet Monday afternoon. Company CEO Sharon Patrick talked with Stewart over the weekend, and a decision on company strategy is expected to be announced this week.

Stewart's main focus right now is the future of her business, the source said. But experts in retailing and marketing said the company faces major challenges now that its founder is a convicted felon.

Martha Stewart, left, thanked her supporters on Monday in her first comments in person since being convicted in federal court last week.

Reflecting that, Martha Stewart Living (MSO: Research, Estimates) stock sank another 8.8 percent Monday after plunging nearly 23 percent after the verdicts Friday.

Stewart spent the weekend at her Westport, Conn., home, where she held various conversations with attorneys and advisers.

She was convicted of obstructing justice, conspiracy and lying to investigators about her sale of stock in the biotech firm ImClone. She avoided a loss of about $51,000 by selling nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone stock on Dec. 27, 2001.

The next trading day, the stock tumbled after regulators announced their rejection of the company's application for a key cancer drug.

Her former broker, Peter Bacanovic, was convicted of four out of five charges against him. He also met with a probation officer Monday.

Each count also carries fines up to $250,000. Lawyers for Stewart and Bacanovic said they would appeal the verdicts.

Rep. James Greenwood, the chairman of a congressional subcommittee that investigated ImClone (IMCL: Research, Estimates), said Monday that Stewart could have avoided criminal charges if she had admitted to making a "mistake" and voluntarily paid a fine.

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"The facts in this matter, I thought, were very clear," said Greenwood, R-Pa. "I can't believe she didn't understand that she had participated in this insider trading, and she had tried to cover it up. And the Justice Department is always going to be lenient if you make a plea bargain agreement, if you don't go to court, admit your guilt. It's historically the smart thing to do when you've done something that you shouldn't have."

Greenwood touted his subcommittee's work during his 2002 re-election bid, but said he would take "not the slightest bit of joy" in Stewart's conviction.

"I tried everything in my power to help her attorneys avoid this outcome," he said. "But they were insistent -- I think she was insistent -- on taking this very dangerous course and it led to where I think it inevitably would lead."  Top of page

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