Former press lord Conrad Black should not be freed on bail while appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court his conviction for defrauding shareholders in his Hollinger International media empire, prosecutors said Monday.
Prosecutors said that even if the high court throws out Black's conviction for swindling the shareholders, he will still have to remain in prison for illegally removing documents sought by the Securities and Exchange Commission and others from his Toronto office. The court
"With full knowledge of an SEC investigation, grand jury investigation and criminal investigation closing in on him, Black knowingly removed 13 boxes of pertinent documents from his Toronto office, sneaking them out the back after his assistant was prevented from removing them earlier in the day," they said.
"Nothing about the Supreme Court's decision on the fraud counts will affect Black's obstruction conviction," prosecutors said in 20 pages of court papers.
Black's attorneys dispute that, saying that if the high court throws out the three fraud counts the Canadian-born press magnate was convicted on, it most likely will overturn the obstruction conviction as well.
The British baron with the title Lord Black of Crossharbour and three other former Hollinger International executives were convicted in July 2007 of swindling the company's shareholders out of $6.1 million.
Black, 64, was also convicted of obstruction after jurors saw a video of him carrying boxes of documents out of his offices, loading them into his car and driving off with them. The documents were sought by government investigators.
Black is currently serving a 61/2-year sentence in a federal prison at Coleman, Fla. U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve, who presided at the trial, has set a July 24 hearing on whether to release him on bond pending the appeal.
Prosecutors conceded that in their Supreme Court appeal, Black's lawyers have raised "substantial questions" about his fraud conviction.
But they said that even if he were resentenced on the obstruction count, the sentence would be so long that he would be out of prison before the appeal on the fraud convictions was resolved and therefore he should remain behind bars.