Black Monday: Conrad Black sentenced to 6.5 years

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      Fallen media baron Conrad Black was sentenced in Chicago today to 78 months in jail, plus a fine of US$125,000.

      Hon. Conrad Moffat Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour - better know to the world as Conrad Black, the world's third most powerful press baron, according to Naomi Klein - received sentencing today in a Chicago court.

      The trial, which began on March 14, raised against the former publisher of the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, and National Post (among many others) 15 charges of fraud, one of obstruction of justice, and one of racketeering. He was ultimately found guilty of four of the charges, including three counts of mail fraud and one of obstruction of justice. Klein has characterized the legal action as: "an odd beast: a Canadian who gave up his citizenship to be a British lord is on trial in the United States for allegedly pocketing tens of millions that belonged to the shareholders of Chicago-based Hollinger International".

      Black maintained his innocence throughout the experience, even in the face of testimony from long-time business associate David Radler.

      In today's news, the federal sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, indicated she would not consider the maximum sentencing guidelines. "By her math," reported the Chicago Sun-Times, "the non-binding but recommended prison term Black would face under federal sentencing guidelines would be 6 1/2 years to eight years and one month — substantially less than the government had sought.

      Hours before the sentence was delivered, St. Eve stated that a lenient term of 78 to 79 months would be an appropriate sentence range for Black, according to a CBC report.

      In recent emails to CBC, Black – who maintains his innocence – wrote that a prison sentence would “only compound the injustice of this entire vendetta”, and be “a bore, but quite endurable”.

      The National Post, which has been following the case in real time on its Conrad Black blog, reported this as the sentencing was delivered:

      2:00 p.m. ET— Speaking softly, Lord Black began by saying, "We have the verdicts and we can't retry this case."
      He went on to say that he has "never uttered a disrespectful word" about Judge St. Eve or the jury and expressed "profound regret and sadness for the severe hardship inflicted on all of the shareholders," citing the fact the stock plummeted as an example.
      Lord Black gripped the podium as he spoke and also thanked the judge for her "unfailing courtesy" when he was almost universally presumed guilty elsewhere.

      Related articles:
      Commentary: "It's a class war in Baron Black's court" by Naomi Klein
      Press Clips: "Conrad Black's plea a risky strategy"
      Business: "Black's legal jousts continue"

      External links:
      Who was guilty of what: Verdicts in the Conrad Black trial
      Black on Black: "I am not afraid"
      Biography: The Life and Times of Conrad Black