Friday 22 September 2017

Black sent back to jail after fraud sentence is extended

Michael Tarm in Chicago

Conrad Black, the once-powerful media mogul whose newspaper empire spanned several continents, was last night heading back to prison for another 13 months after a federal judge ruled he had not served enough time for defrauding investors.

US Judge Amy St Eve sentenced Black to 42 months in prison, but prosecutors say he will be given credit for the 29 months he has already served.

The re-sentencing came after an appeals court decision last year.

Black's wife, Barbara Amiel, seated on a bench in the Chicago court, collapsed into the laps of other spectators as the sentence was delivered, and medics were called.

Black had addressed the judge for about 20 minutes before the sentence was imposed. He did not concede any guilt. "I never ask for mercy," he said, standing with his hands on the podium and looking at the judge, "but I do ask for avoidance of injustice."

Prosecutors who brought the fraud case against Black (66) had depicted him as a devil-may-care elitist. The defence counters he is a gentleman unbowed by adversity, who quietly goes about helping others.

A jury convicted Black in 2007, and at the time Judge St Eve sentenced him to six-and-a-half years for defrauding investors in Hollinger International.

But Black, whose empire once included the 'Chicago Sun-Times', the 'Daily Telegraph' and the 'Jerusalem Post', was freed on bail after serving two years to let him pursue what would be partially successful appeals.

The Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago last year threw out two of Black's fraud convictions but upheld one conviction for fraud and one for obstruction of justice. And it said Ms St Eve would have to sentence Black again for those two standing counts. The defence argues Black was a model prisoner, noting that he helped teach inmates history and economics.

But prison employee Tammy Padgett claimed in an affidavit filed by prosecutors that Black had arranged for inmates to clean and cook for him.

Irish Independent

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