Black Hopeful About Staying Out of Prison - NBC Chicago

Black Hopeful About Staying Out of Prison

Judge sets June 24 sentencing date for former media mogul



    Black Hopeful About Staying Out of Prison
    Verna Sadock
    Judge Amy St. Eve set a June 24 resentencing date during a status hearing for Conrad Black on Jan. 13, 2011.

    Former Canadian media mogul Conrad Black remains hopeful the Supreme Court will take up his case in light of its narrowed interpretatation of the controversial "theft of honest services" law.

    At a status hearing for Black on Thursday, Judge Amy St. Eve set a June 24 resentencing date for the 66-year-old Black on the two convictions that appellate judges had upheld.  Prosecutors said they do not intend to retry Black on fraud convictions that an appellate court tossed out last year.

    Defense attorneys asked the judge for a June date to give them a chance to file a new appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Black, who did not speak during the hearing, once had a media empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and community papers in the U.S. and Canada.

    Two years into a 6 1/2-year sentence, the 66-year-old was released last year from a Florida prison while he appealed his conviction for defrauding Hollinger International Inc. investors.

    An appeals court had reversed two of his fraud convictions in October, citing a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that drastically curtailed ``honest services'' laws that underpinned part of Black's case.

    At the same time, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand one fraud and one obstruction of justice conviction, concluding they were not affected by the landmark high-court decision.

    Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department

    The fraud conviction, the judges found, involved Black and others taking $600,000 and had nothing to do with honest services: It was, they concluded, straightforward theft.

    Prosecutors could have attempted to retry Black on the overturned convictions. The appeals court discouraged that, however, warning it could throw scarce resources at drawn-out litigation.

    The Supreme Court's ruling drastically scaling back honest services laws offered a lifeline to Black and other public figures convicted using the provisions, including Jeffrey Skilling, the former CEO of disgraced energy giant Enron Corp.

    Defense lawyers criticized honest services laws as vague and a last resort of prosecutors when they couldn't show money changed hands. Watchdogs countered they were key to fighting white-collar and public fraud.

    Black is barred from leaving the United States while out on bail, and his British-issued passport seized by the court has now expired. This week, Judge St. Eve signed a one-page order that would serve as his new ID, enabling him to travel by air within the continental U.S.