America's most famous white-collar inmate, Martha Stewart, is expected to be released from prison early Friday after serving a five-month term for insider trading, NBC News has learned.
Stewart, 63, is expected to walk out of the Alderson federal prison camp in West Virginia shortly after midnight and into a media frenzy.
A car will take her to the nearby Greenbrier Valley Airport, where she will be flown by private jet to return home to her 153-acre estate in Katonah, N.Y.
There she will serve out five months of home detention as she assembles the ingredients for the next course in her remarkable career in the domestic arts.
Dozens of cameras will be on hand every step of the way, beginning with a photo opportunity at the West Virginia airport, where Stewart is not expected to make a statement.
But devoted fans and business associates who have waited for Martha's return probably will not have to wait long to hear from the icon of all the "good things" in life. Her company has promised she will post a statement at www.marthastewart.com Friday.
Stewart has plans for two new television shows in the works, including a spin-off of NBC's "The Apprentice," and she has plenty of work reviving her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Although the company has seen its stock triple since Stewart went behind bars, it lost nearly $60 million last year on revenues of $187 million. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)
Stewart elected to enter prison in October to "put this nightmare behind me," as she put it, even though she is continuing to appeal her conviction on insider-trading charges involving stock in ImClone, a biotech company founded by a friend of hers.
Stewart has served 147 days in the federal prison camp for women, known as "Camp Cupcake," where she has reported teaching fellow-inmates yoga, scrubbing toilets, and losing weight on a diet that was a far cry from anything she would whip up on one of her shows.
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