Martha Stewart (search) successfully sneaked past photographers early Friday morning and checked in to serve her sentence at a federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va.
Reporters were unsure of how the domestic diva was able to get into the facility at 6:15 a.m. EDT without being detected, but prison authorities and her Web site both confirmed that she had started serving her five-month sentence for lying about a stock sale. Driven by a security company, she arrived in a dark-colored Ford Expedition that passed through the gates shortly before sunrise.
Federal inmate No. 55170-054 said on her Web site she was looking forward to returning to work in March and enjoying "many brighter days ahead."
"Dear Friends, By the time you read this, I will have reported to a minimum-security prison in Alderson, West Virginia, to begin serving my five-month sentence," it says on her Web site marthatalks.com.
Like all new inmates, Stewart was photographed, fingerprinted and strip-searched. Her personal items were inventoried, said Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (search) in Washington.
She was issued clothing that includes khaki-colored trousers, a button-down shirt and black steel-toed boots, as well as a change of bedding and set of towels.
Prisoners are allowed a plain wedding band and a religious medallion, both of which must be worth less that $100, a pair of prescription eye glasses and legal papers.
After being interviewed by prison staff and briefed on the institution's rules, new inmates undergo a two-week orientation, during which work assignments are made.
Ron Rubottom, a leader in the union that represents prison guards, said an inmate's skills are often considered in making such assignments. "If an inmate has a food-service background, obviously we will try to use that inmate in that area," he said.
Rubottom said Stewart will likely share a cottage with 60 other women.
"Their cottage will have two showers so she's going to have to shower in an area that 60 other women are trying to use as well," he said. "There'll be four or five toilets. Two sinks. She has to share a blow dryer, a curling iron."
Stewart has said she will miss her pets during her stay in prison but hoped to be free in time for spring gardening.
Inmates who are sentenced to a year or less are not eligible for early release because of good behavior. Following her prison term in March, Stewart must serve five months of home confinement.
Stewart will forgo five months of her $900,000-a-year in base pay from her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO), while she is in prison. A new employment contract approved on Sept. 17 says the company will resume paying her when she leaves prison and is on home confinement.
Stewart will be eligible for jobs that pay only 12 cents to 40 cents an hour while at the facility 270 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., which has been dubbed both "Camp Cupcake" and "Club Fed" by former inmates.
Stewart's lawyers will ask a federal appeals court later this month to overturn the conviction.
"As I announced in September, although my lawyers remain very confident in the strength of my appeal and will continue to pursue it on my behalf, I have decided to serve my sentence now because I want to put this nightmare behind me as quickly as possible for the good of my family and my company," the Web site said.
Stewart's Web statement said: "While I am away, my updates here will be less frequent, if not altogether impossible. But please know this change is only an unfortunate reflection of my current circumstances, and in no way diminishes my commitment to my life's work or to the friends, colleagues, customers and supporters who make it possible."
Stewart was sentenced to Alderson after she and former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic (search ) were convicted in March of lying to federal investigators about why Stewart sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. (IMCL) stock in December 2001. They received the same sentence — five months in prison plus five months of house arrest.
Both were allowed to remain free pending appeal. But Stewart decided to begin serving her time before the appeal was resolved.
The famous and the felonious are nothing new to the town of Alderson, where the prison that opened in 1927 has seen the likes of Billie Holiday, Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally and would-be presidential assassins Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.
Yet none has attracted as much attention as Stewart.
The promise of her arrival in Alderson lured five students to skip morning classes at the Beckley Beauty Academy. Stewart was already inside the prison when the students arrived, clad in beautician smocks, but they said they planned to return when she is released.
"I think she rocks. If she needs her hair done while she's here, she should call," Leighann Alderman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.