Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Black defense: Chief accuser is 'serial liar'

In closing statements in former Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black's federal fraud trial, his defense is claiming that Black's chief accuser, his longtime partner David Radler, is a "serial liar:"

Both Greenspan and co-counsel Edward Genson argued that the government's case rested on a "few phone calls" Radler claimed he had with Black outlining the plan to steal money. "Where are the documents?" Greenspan said. "Where are the other witnesses?" He said Radler, the former Sun-Times publisher, couldn't even remember when the first call took place.

Genson said there was no evidence of a plan between the defendants. "It was like a conspiracy for mind readers," Genson said.

The defense attorneys argued that prosecutors focused on Black's ''champagne and caviar and oriental rugs'' to appeal to class prejudice. "In America, you cannot be convicted for being rich," Greenspan said.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown (the Sun-Times is a former Hollinger newspaper) took issue with the idea that Black had suddenly discovered Radler was a serial liar:

Lying suited Radler's purposes, and it must have suited Black's, too, as they took a $20,000 investment in 1969 and built a newspaper empire valued at a few billion dollars before they started selling it off in pieces in the late '90s. It was in the sell-off that prosecutors say Radler's lies caught up with him, when some of the company's investors figured out he and Black had cooked up a scheme to pocket an unfair share of the proceeds for themselves by disguising their self-dealing as non-competition agreements.

Genson told the jury Black and Radler began selling their holdings because they foresaw that the newspaper industry was in for a tough time.

"People just don't read newspapers like they used to," Genson explained.

At one time, Hollinger International's U. S. subsidy, American Publishing, owned The Carthage Press and the Neosho Daily News.

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