MOUNT DESERT – Just hours after Martha Stewart was freed early Thursday from her house arrest, she apparently joined the hordes of people heading north to Maine for Labor Day weekend.
And after an eventful year marked with a prison stay and five months of house arrest, the domestic diva, 64, wasn’t taking any chances – even in this quiet seaside community that is a summer enclave for the wealthy.
Jim Willis, chief of the Mount Desert Police Department, confirmed that some of his officers have been hired to provide guard duty for Stewart.
“She’s contracted our services,” he said Thursday afternoon. “That’s something we do quite routinely throughout the summer months for quite a few people.”
Willis declined to say how many officers would be providing the security detail or how long it would last. Another source said that Stewart had contracted for 24-hour guards.
Each officer will be paid $50 per hour to keep an eye on Stewart as she relaxes in Skylands, the Seal Harbor estate that she bought in 1997.
A 12-bedroom, pink-granite summer “cottage,” Skylands was built by automobile scion Edsel Ford in 1925.
“Officers are doing this on their off time, days off and things like that,” Willis said.
Though Stewart will be walking easier without the electronic ankle bracelet that has been her constant companion since she began house arrest in March – including a three-week extension for violating unspecified probation rules – she has not yet been freed entirely from her legal troubles.
Those troubles began when she was convicted last year of lying to authorities about her 2001 sale of about 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock.
She will be on probation for a year and a half, meaning that she is not allowed to get drunk, own a gun or leave the federal court district without permission, among other things. She must meet with her probation officer whenever requested and submit monthly reports on her activities.
For Stewart’s trips to Maine or to her other homes in Connecticut and the Hamptons on Long Island, she would have to ask permission.
Despite her house arrest and probation conditions, Stewart has been active, especially with her flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living. In the September online edition, she wrote a column that extolled the delights of mussels, specifically mentioning those harvested from Gott’s Island off the coast of Mount Desert Island. When in Maine, she’ll be able to enjoy the mussels close to the source.
It’s unknown how long Stewart will remain in Maine. A person contacted Thursday afternoon at Stewart’s New York offices would not comment on her travel plans.
Being stuck close to her New York estate and wearing her electronic ankle bracelet apparently has grated on Stewart.
In one Internet chat with fans, she said: “I hope none of you ever has to wear one.”
The prospect of being rid of the bracelet filled her with “nervous excitement,” Stewart told reporters Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.