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Ex-newspaper Mogul Black Gets 6.5 Years in Jail

A judge sentenced former media mogul Conrad Black to 6-1/2 years in prison for obstructing justice and defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International.

Conrad Black leaves a federal courthouse in Chicago on Januart 12, 2007.
Charles Rex Arbogast
Conrad Black leaves a federal courthouse in Chicago on Januart 12, 2007.

Judge Amy St. Eve of the U.S. District Court here ordered Black to report to prison in 12 weeks. He was also ordered to forfeit $6.1 million and was fined $125,000.

Government prosecutors had asked for a sentence between 16 and 24 years in prison, based on their contention that the fraud scheme involving Black and three co-defendants netted more than $31 million.

But a pre-sentence report sent to the judge reduced the estimated fraud to $6.1 million.

The judge told the 63-year-old Black that he had not "accepted" his guilt, that he abused the trust of shareholders and engaged in sophisticated schemes that required more than minimal planning.

Black had protested his innocence throughout the trial, claiming he was the victim of "corporate governance zealots," and promised to appeal.

The Canadian-born member of Britain's House of Lords was found guilty of one count of obstructing justice and three counts of fraud.

Before the sentence was imposed, Black's lawyer, Jeffrey Steinbach, said Black would not "knowingly harm the company" as it would cost him as its principal shareholder.

"Those are not the actions of a robber," he said, calling Black a "devoted father" and a writer of note. He also cited "scores and scores of letters" sent to court from friends, family and others extolling Black's virtues and urging mercy.

But prosecutor Eric Sussman noted Black had previously said he was being "persecuted by Nazis" and "zealots."

"He is disdainful and defiant" of the process and the verdict, heaped "scorn and contempt" on the court and "views prison in this case as a badge of honor," Sussman told the judge.

The Canadian-born member of Britain's House of Lords was found guilty on July 13 of one count of obstructing justice and three counts of fraud.