NEW YORK – The baby-faced office assistant who exposed the lies of Martha Stewart walked out of court a free man Friday.

Manhattan Federal Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum cut Douglas Faneuil every possible break, rejecting the maximum penalty of six months in prison and allowing him to walk away with no probation. Her only sanction was a $2,000 fine.

“You are in every way a very lucky young man,” Cedarbaum said, giving him “enormous credit” for helping prosecutors and accepting his word that Faneuil “will never again do anything that will bring you in contact with the criminal justice system.”

“I hope that my reliance is well-placed and if it is, I wish you good luck,” she said.

Faneuil then embraced his lawyers and family members and gave his longtime boyfriend, Rob Haskell, a kiss on the cheek.

Faneuil, his mother, father and stepmother all declined to comment as they passed through the media throng in the pouring rain.

Before he was sentenced, Faneuil, 28, addressed the court, choking up as he apologized for at first lying to investigators about his role in Stewart’s now-infamous stock sale.

He recovered to say he was “braver and stronger” for his decision to tell the truth.

“If I were given the opportunity to prevent it from happening again, I would choose to do so every single time,” Faneuil said.

During trial, Faneuil admitted he initially lied to the government about what happened the morning of Dec. 27, 2001, when he sold 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems stock for Stewart.

He later admitted that his boss, Peter Bacanovic, had ordered him to tell Stewart that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was desperately trying to unload much of his and his family’s ImClone shares. He also said Bacanovic later told him to stick to a story about a prearranged agreement to sell if ImClone hit $60 per share.

Faneuil testified that the $60 story – the cornerstone of Stewart’s and Bacanovic’s defense – was fiction, and went on to describe fielding phone calls from a maniacal Stewart fuming about various injustices.

“Baby put Miss Martha in her place” was his response to a friend after one such call.

A week ago, Cedarbaum sentenced Stewart to five months in jail and five months’ home confinement.

“Faneuil faced the same choice that Stewart and Bacanovic had to make: Hold firm to the lies he had told investigators or tell the truth,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Patton Seymour. “Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Faneuil’s decision to tell the truth is that he came forward for only one reason: because he knew it was the right thing to do.”

(c) 2004, New York Daily News.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-07-23-04 2312EDT

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