August 14, 2022

Business Briefing | Legal: Conrad Black to Return to Jail for at Least a Year

Judge Amy J. St. Eve of United States District Court in Chicago, sentenced Mr. Black to three and a half years in prison after berating, then praising him. But prosecutors said he would be given credit for more than two years already served, meaning he will go back for little more than a year.

As Judge St. Eve announced the sentence with Mr. Black standing expressionless before her, his 70-year-old wife, Barbara Amiel, fainted on a wooden courtroom bench. As she sprawled across the laps of other spectators, medics rushed in to attend to her.

In a 20-minute statement before he was sentenced, Mr. Black, 66, spoke confidently and philosophically, citing poetry and maintaining he had been falsely accused. At no point did he apologize.

His final words to Judge St. Eve were to ask for a lesser sentence.

“I never ask for mercy,” he said, standing with his hands on the podium and looking straight at her, “but I do ask for avoidance of injustice.”

Judge St. Eve had originally sentenced Mr. Black to six and a half years in prison after he was convicted in 2007 of defrauding investors in Hollinger International.

Mr. Black, whose empire once included The Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, The Jerusalem Post and small papers across the United States and Canada, served more than two years before being freed on bail to pursue what would be partly successful appeals.

Judge St. Eve said on Friday that Mr. Black had “violated the trust” of his shareholders and expressed bewilderment that someone as gifted as Mr. Black would commit such a crime.

“As you stand before me today, I still scratch my head as to why you engaged in this conduct,” she said.

Her sentence could have been far tougher. But Judge St. Eve said she rejected the option of sending Mr. Black back to prison for more than four years in part because of dozens of letters she had received from inmates saying Mr. Black had changed their lives through lectures he gave on writing, history, economics and other subjects.

Mr. Black will have to report to prison in about six weeks, though a fixed date has not been set, Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office, said.

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