Prosecutors: Jailed ex-media mogul Conrad Black unlikely to attend Chicago bail hearing
CHICAGO – A federal judge in Chicago is set to determine under what conditions Conrad Black should be released from prison while he appeals his conviction for defrauding shareholders, but the former media mogul is unlikely to show up in court himself.
Black, 65, isn't required to be present at the Wednesday proceedings before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, and he probably won't be, the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago said Tuesday. Prosecutors declined further comment on the case.
St. Eve will determine Black's conditions of release from the low-security prison in Coleman, Fla., where he has served more than two years of a 6½-year sentence.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday granted Black's motion for bail. The decision came weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the "honest services" law that was central to Black's fraud conviction and kicked his case back to a lower court. The justices left it up to the lower court to decide whether the conviction should be overturned. That decision has not yet been made.
Black was convicted in 2007 along with three other former Hollinger International executives of swindling the media empire's shareholders out of $6.1 million. He was acquitted of nine other charges.
Black also was convicted of obstruction of justice after jurors saw a video of him carrying boxes of documents out of his offices, loading them into his car and driving off with them. The documents were sought by government investigators. The high court's ruling didn't affect the obstruction of justice count.
Black's attorney, Miguel Estrada, did not respond to phone messages Tuesday seeking comment.
Hollinger International once owned the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, The Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers in the U.S. and Canada.
At the core of the charges against Black was his strategy, starting in 1998, of selling off the bulk of the small community papers, which were published in smaller cities across the United States and Canada.
Black and other Hollinger executives received millions of dollars in payments from the companies that bought the community papers in return for promises that they would not return to compete with the new owners.
Prosecutors said the executives pocketed the money, which they said belonged to shareholders, without telling Hollinger's board of directors.
But Black's lawyers have maintained that federal prosecutors failed to muster adequate evidence that he defrauded anyone or tried to hide key documents.
Black — who renounced his Canadian citizenship to become a member of the British House of Lords — was known for a grand lifestyle, including a $62,000 birthday party for his wife, a swanky apartment on Park Avenue in New York and a trip to the island of Bora Bora.