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The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider overturning the fraud conviction of media executive Conrad Black, who is serving a 6 1/2 year prison term.
The justices will hear arguments later this year over the convictions of Black, the former chairman and chief executive of the Hollinger International media company, and two other former executives in connection with payments of $5.5 million they received from a Hollinger subsidiary.
The men argued that they did not commit fraud because they did no harm to the company.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the convictions, but the nation's appeals courts are divided on the central issue undergirding their convictions.
At issue is the reach of a federal fraud statute that was originally aimed at prosecuting public officials.
Black and former executives John A. Boultbee and Mark S. Kipnis argue that the $5.5m. actually represented management fees that the subsidiary owed to the executives.
Hollinger once owned the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph of London, The Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers across the United States and Canada.
All of Hollinger's big papers except the Sun-Times have now been sold and the company that emerged changed its name to Sun-Times Media Group.
Black, a member of the British House of Lords, has so far served more than a year of his sentence at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida. He had asked President George W. Bush for a pardon before Bush left office in January.