Radler Gets Off

Ex-Sun-Times publisher gets out early, off easy

Former Gov. George Ryan has not as yet gotten the commutation of his prison sentence he is hoping for, but another public villain from Illinois's recent past has had better luck:

Former Sun-TimesPublisher David Radler, who pled guilty in 2005 for his role in a scheme to loot at least $32 million from the paper's corporate parent, has been released on parole after serving less than a year of a 29-month sentence.

Radler's sentence itself was light because he cooperated with authorities in putting away his old partner, Conrad Black, who is serving a 6 1/2-year term a Florida prison - and who has, like Ryan, asked President Bush to free him.

"Under the harsher US federal system, [Black] is ineligible for parole until he has served 85% of his sentence," the Guardiannoted.

Radler was transferred to the Canadian system just 10 weeks ago.

"In a three-page decision, the parole board noted the former newspaper executive's confessed crime did not involve violence, nor did his behaviour suggest a potential for violence," the Vancouver Provincereports.

But has he been rehabilitated? Or has his experience just proven the importance of the deal?

"While behind bars, he began work on a book and taught a course to fellow prisoners called 'advanced business'," the TorontoGlobe and Mailreports. "The course included 'a little business history, a little business psychology and a lot of Radler philosophy,' he said in a letter to The Globe and Mail last July. The course probably had 'the highest attendance on the compound,' he wrote."

Radler returns to his $2.7 million home in Vancouver, hardly worse for the wear.

"International lawyer Robert Adamson, who teaches at Simon Fraser University Segal Graduate School of Business, said Radler's release suggests inadequacies in the sentencing for white-collar crimes," the Toronto Starreports.

"The reality is legal systems treat these crimes differently," he said. "There's a lack of resources in Canada. It's a more complicated process in Canada than it should be." Steven Skurka, a Toronto lawyer and author of Tilted: The Trial of Conrad Black, puts it more bluntly: "He played the system like a virtuoso violinist, and his release on full parole to return to his south Vancouver mansion is a far greater achievement than building the third largest media empire in the world."

A media empire whose stock, Michael Miner notes, "is now worth a few pennies a share."

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