Stewart's company to help pay her legal bills

/ Source: The Associated Press

Billionaire Martha Stewart, released from a West Virginia prison two weeks ago, will be reimbursed by her company for some legal bills.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. said an independent expert determined that Stewart was entitled to $3.7 million for certain expenses related to her legal defense.

The 10-K filing stated that the company believes that any amount to be reimbursed to Stewart will be covered under its insurance coverage of directors and officers, and “does not believe that the payment will result in an expense to the corporation.”

Last November, Stewart had asked the company she founded to reimburse her for her legal bills. The $3.7 million figure applied to Stewart’s defense on a single criminal count — a charge that she boosted the company’s share price, and therefore her own wealth, in 2002 by declaring her innocence in a personal stock scandal.

A federal judge dropped that count before it went to a jury. Stewart and her ex-stockbroker were later convicted of lying to investigators about why Stewart sold ImClone Systems Inc. shares in December 2001.

Late last year, the company and Stewart had agreed to submit the reimbursement claim to an “independent expert” to determine whether Stewart was entitled for any reimbursement.

Last week, Stewart, 63, was named for the first time to Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires, with estimated wealth of $1 billion.