Gary Susman
October 08, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It’s rare for someone to sneak into a prison, but that’s what Martha Stewart did before dawn on Friday, avoiding a potential crush of reporters and paparazzi. According to NBC News, she arrived at the federal prison at Alderson, W. Va., in a gray SUV before sunrise and surrendered herself to authorities. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons issued a statement confirming that the 63-year-old homemaking mogul arrived at 6:15 a.m. at the facility nicknamed ”Camp Cupcake” to begin her five-month sentence for lying to the government about her ImClone stock sale.

Stewart issued a statement of her own Friday morning to her supporters, saying: ”By the time you read this, I will have reported to a minimum-security prison in Alderson, West Virginia, to begin serving my five-month sentence.” She added: ”As I announced in September, although my lawyers remain very confident in the strength of my appeal and will continue to pursue it on my behalf, I have decided to serve my sentence now because I want to put this nightmare behind me as quickly as possible for the good of my family and my company.”

On Thursday, her appeal lawyers were busy, sending a letter to federal prosecutors urging them to turn over documents related to the perjury trial of government handwriting expert Larry Stewart (no relation), who was charged with lying on the stand when he testified that he’d overseen the testing of a key document in Martha’s case. Prosecutors have argued that Larry Stewart’s perjury charge was not relevant to Martha’s appeal; plus, he was acquitted on Tuesday. Nonetheless, Martha’s appeal team argued in the letter, the government was still obliged to turn over information in the Larry Stewart case to Martha’s defense lawyers during her trial, and by not doing so, it withheld evidence that ”could have led to an acquittal” for Martha.

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