Martha Stewart (search) was allowed to slip quietly into the FBI's New York headquarters early Monday morning to escape media attention while she was fingerprinted and photographed, The Post has learned.
The feds agreed to Stewart's request for a breakfast-time rendezvous at 26 Federal Plaza - even as her high-powered team of advisers are mounting an aggressive public relations campaign claiming she's being unfairly treated because she's a successful woman.
The soft touch comes after the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office allowed Stewart, 61, to surrender to U.S. marshals inside the Manhattan federal court last Wednesday - unlike other alleged corporate crooks who were arrested and paraded in handcuffs last year.
Stewart's team promised last week she would visit the FBI (search)'s offices to be processed for the bureau's database immediately after her court appearance, sources said.
But after being confronted by a throng of photographers and TV cameramen at the court, her legal team told the feds she'd rather be processed the following week.
Sources said yesterday Stewart arranged the early-morning FBI visit late last week in a bid to avoid another media spectacle. Even members of her public relations team yesterday were unaware of her visit.
Sources said prosecutors within the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Jim Comey and federal agents were prepared to grant Stewart's requests to counter her own campaign claiming that she is being harshly treated to garner sympathy - and influence potential jurors.
Stewart's alleged conspirator in the ImClone stock scandal, former Merrill Lynch broker Peter Bacanovic (search), 41, also was processed by the FBI yesterday.
Stewart and Bacanovic, who were both indicted on five charges, including conspiracy and obstructing justice, posed for mug shots and were fingerprinted by U.S. marshals last week, but the FBI requires a separate set for their database.
The arrest procedure for Stewart stands in marked contrast to the high-profile arrests last year of WorldCom chief financial officer Scott Sullivan and senior executive David Myers, who were paraded in handcuffs.
Lawyers for Adelphia founder John Rigas (search), who last year was arrested at 6 a.m. on charges he looted the communications company's accounts, had appealed to prosecutors on at least two separate occasions to allow the 78-year-old to surrender, sources said yesterday.
Stewart's legal and crisis-management team have attempted to portray her arrest as a publicity stunt and set up a "marthatalks.com (search)" Web site to build support.
With Stewart's mug shots under lock and key at 26 Federal Plaza, visitors to the Web site were greeted with a happy snap of her cuddling her dogs Paw Paw and Tutu.