Monday, June 16, 2008

Arguments heard in Conrad Black appeal

U. S. Federal Court judges heard arguments Friday from former Hollinger Interntional CEO Conrad Black, who is trying to have his six-and-a-half-year prison sentence for mail fraud and obstruction of justice tossed out:

Jailbird Black is in the chokie for six and half years for treating funds in his publicly traded media company Hollinger International (other-otc: HLGAF.PK - news - people ) like his own personal piggy bank. In July, a federal jury found him guilty of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice and he was off the hook for nine other charges.

Black's alleged misdeeds were detailed during the trial, including using company money to pay $42,000 for his wife's birthday party at New York restaurant La Grenouille, swindling the company in a $3 million Park Avenue apartment sale and taking the corporate jet on a two-week vacation to Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Black said these were justified business expenses and that he paid his fair share in the apartment deal.

Black and his No.2 David Radler built Hollinger from scratch, starting with a tiny, money-losing English-language paper in French-speaking Quebec, the Sherbrooke Record. At its height, Hollinger owned the Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph of London, the Jerusalem Post, Canada’s National Post and hundreds of U.S. and Canadian community newspapers.

Black married the beautiful journalist and socialite Barbara Amiel and they lived a lavish international lifestyle. He renounced his Canadian citizenship to get his British peerage title because the Canadian prime minister at the time, Jean Chretien, had recommended against the move thereby killing Black's chances at being called Lord while Canadian.

Lead prosecutor Eric Sussman said he was confident the panel would uphold the convictions. The judges could make a decision in four to six weeks, Frey said.

Hollinger International, at one time, owned The Carthage Press and the Neosho Daily New

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