By Editor & Publisher Staff
June 25, 2008
CHICAGO - Conrad Black lost his chance to get out of jail Wednesday as a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld his convictions in the looting of the parent of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The court also upheld the convictions of Black's three co-defendants, top executives of Hollinger International, now known as Sun-Times Media Group. Appellate Judge Richard A. Posner rejected a common argument of the defendants, that the jury that convicted them last summer was improperly given an "ostrich" instruction, allowing the jury to find a defendant guilty for actively trying to remain ignorant of criminal actions.
Black and codefendants Peter Y. Atkinson, John "Jack" Boultbee, and Mark Kipnis were convicted of improperly pocketing phony "non-compete" fees in the sell-off of Hollinger's community papers. Black was also convicted of obstruction of justice for removing items from his office in defiance of a court order. He is serving a six-and-a-half prison sentence in Florida.
In a statement late Wednesday, Sun-Times Media Group President and CEO Cyrus F. Freidheim Jr. said the decision "allows the company to focus on its future."
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for Chicago whose office prosecuted Black and the others, hailed the appeals court ruling.
In an article on the Sun-Times Web site Wednesday, staff reporter Mary Wisniewski quoted Black's defense attorney, Andrew Frey, as saying the decision was "very disappointing."
Among the options is appealing to the entire appellate court, or taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.