Not since the French Revolution has there been such a delight in seeing corporate heads fall. But unlike other CEO’s who had bilked their companies out of millions of dollars, Martha Stewart was targeted, prosecuted and imprisoned solely because of who she is and not for what she had done. Shares in her company, Martha Stewart living Omnimedia dropped precipitously only when the Justice Department indicted her. But the prosecution admitted unabashedly that they intended to make an example of her as a deterrent to white collar crime. Love her or hate her, Martha’s case was all about her celebrity.
The story of how the feds first attacked her reputation, and then brought her down for nothing more than retuning a phone call to her broker, is a chilling reminder that out-of-control prosecutors and courts are something we all need to be concerned with.