Prosecutors Blocked in Stewart Case

02/03/2004 AT 07:39 PM EST

The judge in the Martha Stewart trial on Tuesday halted prosecutors from informing the jury that the domestic diva's co-defendant, her stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, removed certain documents from his Merrill Lynch & Co office while the two were both under subpoena, the Associated Press reports from Manhattan's federal courthouse.

"We don't know exactly what those documents were that were removed," prosecutor Michael Schachter told U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who countered by saying the point was irrelevant.

Bacanovic's attorney, Richard Strassberg, claimed that the only documents removed were personnel files, and that Merrill officials authorized their withdrawal. Strassberg labeled Schachter's attempt to put the issue before the jury "disingenuous."

Stewart, 62, and Bacanovic, 41, who have pleaded not guilty to all the counts against them, are charged with concocting a false story to explain why she sold nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems stock on December 27, 2001, right before a negative government report was made public.

Bacanovic's former assistant, Douglas Faneuil, was expected to testify later Tuesday. His testimony is vital to the government's case against Stewart and the events leading up to her stock sale. The testimony is expected to support prosecutors' accusations that Bacanovic ordered Faneuil to tip off Stewart.

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