Media mogul convicted of fraud


Summary

Black, 62, was convicted of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

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He faces a maximum of 35 years in prison for the offences, plus a maximum penalty of $US1 million ($A1.16 million).

Acquitted of other charges

He was acquitted of nine other counts, including racketeering and misuse of corporate perks, such as taking the company plane on a vacation to Bora Bora and billing shareholders $US40,000 ($A46,224) for his wife's birthday party.

Black, sitting at a table with his attorneys, did not show any emotion when the verdict was read.

After US District Judge Amy St Eve briefly adjourned the court, his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, and his daughter, Alana, leaned over to console him.

While the verdict was mixed, the conviction signalled an increasing trend of aggressive US government pursuit of senior corporate executives, following the Enron, Tyco and WorldCom scandals, and of holding top executives personally accountable for their companies' actions.

Former Executives guilty

Black's three co-defendants were all found guilty of three counts of mail fraud.

They are former Hollinger International vice presidents John Boultbee, 64, of Vancouver and Peter Atkinson, 60, of Toronto and attorney Mark Kipnis, 59, of Chicago. They face up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $US750,000 ($A866,700).

Hollinger International once owned community papers across the United States and Canada as well as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Toronto-based National Post, The Daily Telegraph of London and Israel's Jerusalem Post.

The Sun-Times is the only large paper remaining at the company whose name has been changed to Sun-Times News Group.

The heart of the case against the husky, silver-haired publishing millionaire focused on a large-scale selloff starting in 1998 of Hollinger community papers that were published across the United States and Canada.

Companies that bought newspapers in seven such deals paid millions of dollars to Hollinger International, with headquarters in Chicago, in return for promises it would not go into competition with the new owners.

No 2 man testifies

Black was charged with illegally diverting millions of dollars in those so-called non-compete payments to himself, Boultbee, Atkinson and the longtime No 2 man in the Hollinger International empire, F David Radler.

Radler pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to testify in exchange for a lenient 29-month sentence.

In eight days on the witness stand, he contradicted Black's argument that he knew little about the deals that led to the non-compete payments because he was busy with other matters.

Black's attorneys painted Radler as a liar looking for a good deal from prosecutors in his own case.


Black, 62, was convicted of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

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He faces a maximum of 35 years in prison for the offences, plus a maximum penalty of $US1 million ($A1.16 million).

Acquitted of other charges

He was acquitted of nine other counts, including racketeering and misuse of corporate perks, such as taking the company plane on a vacation to Bora Bora and billing shareholders $US40,000 ($A46,224) for his wife's birthday party.

Black, sitting at a table with his attorneys, did not show any emotion when the verdict was read.

After US District Judge Amy St Eve briefly adjourned the court, his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, and his daughter, Alana, leaned over to console him.

While the verdict was mixed, the conviction signalled an increasing trend of aggressive US government pursuit of senior corporate executives, following the Enron, Tyco and WorldCom scandals, and of holding top executives personally accountable for their companies' actions.

Former Executives guilty

Black's three co-defendants were all found guilty of three counts of mail fraud.

They are former Hollinger International vice presidents John Boultbee, 64, of Vancouver and Peter Atkinson, 60, of Toronto and attorney Mark Kipnis, 59, of Chicago. They face up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $US750,000 ($A866,700).

Hollinger International once owned community papers across the United States and Canada as well as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Toronto-based National Post, The Daily Telegraph of London and Israel's Jerusalem Post.

The Sun-Times is the only large paper remaining at the company whose name has been changed to Sun-Times News Group.

The heart of the case against the husky, silver-haired publishing millionaire focused on a large-scale selloff starting in 1998 of Hollinger community papers that were published across the United States and Canada.

Companies that bought newspapers in seven such deals paid millions of dollars to Hollinger International, with headquarters in Chicago, in return for promises it would not go into competition with the new owners.

No 2 man testifies

Black was charged with illegally diverting millions of dollars in those so-called non-compete payments to himself, Boultbee, Atkinson and the longtime No 2 man in the Hollinger International empire, F David Radler.

Radler pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to testify in exchange for a lenient 29-month sentence.

In eight days on the witness stand, he contradicted Black's argument that he knew little about the deals that led to the non-compete payments because he was busy with other matters.

Black's attorneys painted Radler as a liar looking for a good deal from prosecutors in his own case.