Former 'Post' owner gets 6.5 years

Conrad Black sentenced to prison term for swindling shareholders out of millions of dollars.

conrad black 224 88 (photo credit: )
conrad black 224 88
(photo credit: )
Former newspaper mogul Conrad Black was sentenced Monday to 6 1/2 years in prison for swindling shareholders in his Hollinger International media empire out of millions of dollars to help finance his lavish lifestyle. Black, 63, a Canadian-born member of the British House of Lords renowned for his flamboyant way with words, had faced up to slightly more than 8 years in prison under sentencing guidelines determined earlier Monday by US District Judge Amy J. St. Eve. Federal prosecutors previously asked St. Eve, who presided over Black's four-month trial earlier this year, to sentence the press lord to US prison for as long as 24 years for his July 13 convictions on three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. Before he was sentenced, Black was variously described as generous and highly charitable, as well as defiant and without remorse. Asked if he wished to speak before sentencing, Black - who did not testify at the trial - professed "profound regret and sadness at the severe hardship inflicted on all the shareholders" after he left the company. But he did not apologize for any actions he took while heading Hollinger. St. Eve ordered Black to report to prison in 12 weeks, though she did not immediately give a specific date, and said he could remain free on his $21 million bond in the meantime. St. Eve said Monday she would recommend Black be incarcerated in Florida. A major point of dispute among attorneys had been how to calculate the total loss to shareholders. Prosecutors put it at $32m. But a pre-sentence report, prepared by the probation department, figured the loss at $6m., which could have factored into the decision to keep Black's sentence at the low end of the guidelines. Under Black, Hollinger was a media colossus that once owned The Daily Telegraph in London, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, plus hundreds of community newspapers across the United States and Canada. Earlier Monday, defense attorney Jeffrey B. Steinback read to St. Eve portions of letters written on Black's behalf from singer Elton John, conservative writers William Buckley and George Will and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Black, who had vacationed in Bora Bora and rode around London in a Rolls Royce before his conviction, is now headed for prison, where inmates are paid 12 cents an hour for such jobs as washing windows and mopping floors.