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A Secret Service ink expert was acquitted Tuesday of lying on the stand at Martha Stewart’s trial — a case the homemaking expert seized on in her bid to have her conviction thrown out. The federal jury returned its verdict in favor of Larry Stewart on the second day of deliberations. “Mr. Stewart, good luck to you,” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said. Stewart hugged his lawyers after the verdict was read. Stewart, who had tears in his eyes while speaking to reporters outside court, said he felt “great” but called the ordeal “long, expensive and painful.” “It has confirmed our faith, and particularly Mr. Stewart’s faith, in the jury system,” said his lawyer, Judith Wheat. The perjury charges centered around his testimony about the ink on a stock worksheet in Stewart’s trial. The two Stewarts are not related. Lawyers for Martha Stewart have said repeatedly that the perjury charges would play a large role in their effort to persuade a federal appeals court to overturn her conviction. But U.S. Attorney David Kelley said outside court Tuesday that he has always believed the case would have no impact on Martha Stewart’s appeal. “I think we’re on solid ground on that point,” Kelly said. While Stewart’s ex-stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, was acquitted of a charge of doctoring the worksheet — the count for which Larry Stewart was called to testify — her lawyers said the alleged perjury taints the entire prosecution. Martha Stewart has decided to begin serving her five-month prison sentence while she appeals. She must report by Friday to the minimum-security federal women’s prison in Alderson, W.Va. In the Larry Stewart trial, the first perjury count accused him of exaggerating the role he played in testing performed on the worksheet in the summer of 2002 and in January 2004, just before the trial. Susan Fortunato, a Secret Service scientist who worked under Stewart, testified she performed the tests. Stewart repeatedly used the first person when describing the testing on the witness stand. The second count accused Stewart of lying when he said on the stand that he was familiar with a proposal two colleagues had submitted for a book that included a chapter on densitometry, an ink-testing method. The trial offered a curious mix of scientific testimony about arcane ink-testing methods and a detailed description of what the defense called a three-year feud between Fortunato and Stewart. Fortunato testified that Stewart confronted her after an office meeting in 2001 and kissed her. She complained to her supervisors but later signed a statement withdrawing the claim. The defense noted that the pair, as well as at least one other Secret Service employee, regularly went to lunches where the conversation veered into sexually charged material. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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