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Stewart returns to firm in non-executive post

Martha Stewart on Wednesday was named non-executive chairwoman of the lifestyle, media and merchandising company that she created.

Stewart rejoined the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in September at the end of a five-year ban on serving as a board member or as an executive of a public company as part a settlement with federal regulators related to insider trading.

As non-executive chairwoman, Stewart will help set the direction for the business but will have no direct operating role. Typically, a person in such a position also would hold a top management post such as CEO.

"I look forward to working closely with our directors and our management team as we focus on the future, capitalizing on the strength of our brand and our amazing customer connection to continue building our business so that it realizes its full and considerable potential," Stewart said.

Stewart was convicted in 2004 on federal criminal charges of lying to prosecutors about selling ImClone shares a day before the Food and Drug Administration announced that it declined to review an ImClone application for a cancer drug. She served five months in prison.

In 2006, the Securities Exchange Commission agreed to settle a related civil case against Stewart. Under the agreement, Stewart agreed to pay about $58,000 along with a civil penalty of about three times the loss she avoided, or about $137,000. She also agreed to a five-year ban from serving on the board or as an officer of a public company

Stewart succeeds the current non-executive chairman, Charles A. Koppelman.

Earlier this month, Martha Stewart Living reported a smaller-than-expected first-quarter loss on lower expenses.

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