Former press lord Conrad M. Black compared himself to a privileged aristocrat of the French revolutionary era as he wrestled with the high cost of using his company plane, federal prosecutors said.
"There has not been an occasion for many months that I got on our plane without wondering whether it was really affordable," Black was quoted as saying in papers filed in his racketeering and fraud case.
"But I'm not prepared to re-enact the French revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility," he is quoted as saying in an August 2002 e-mail after questions arose about his use of the plane for a vacation.
"We have to find a balance between an unfair taxation on the company and a reasonable treatment of the founder-builder-managers," he allegedly added. "We are proprietors, after all, beleaguered though we may be."
Black's alleged remarks were quoted in an 81-page outline of the government's case against him and three other defendants, submitted Monday to US District Judge Amy J. St. Eve in Chicago.