NEW YORK – Imprisoned homemaking mogul Martha Stewart (search) has asked the company she founded, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., to reimburse her for $3.7 million in legal bills.
The company disclosed the request in a regulatory filing Tuesday.
The $3.7 million figure applies to Stewart's defense on a single criminal count — a charge that she propped up the company's stock price, and therefore her own wealth, in 2002 by declaring her innocence in a personal stock scandal.
A federal judge threw out 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. (IMCL)stock in 2001.
Stewart, who is appealing her conviction for lying to investigators about a stock sale, is in the second month of a five-month prison sentence at a minimum-security federal prison for women in Alderson, W.Va.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (search) filing said the company and Stewart had agreed to submit the reimbursement claim to an "independent expert on Delaware law."
The media company also said it believed insurance would cover the money if the independent expert found the company owed Stewart the money.
Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) were up 20 cents to $18.40 in early trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Former WorldCom Inc. (search) chief Bernard Ebbers, who goes on trial in January on fraud and conspiracy charges, is seeking reimbursement from that company for legal bills that have already topped $2 million.
And members of the Rigas family, founders of Adelphia Communications Corp. (search) , have tangled with the cable company over who should pay their legal bills. Two members of the family were convicted of fraud earlier this year.