U.S. Supreme Court to hear Conrad Black's appeal

Mon May 18, 2009 12:28pm EDT
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would hear an appeal by former media baron Conrad Black and two ex-colleagues seeking to overturn their convictions for defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc.

Black, a Canadian-born member of Britain's House of Lords, has been in prison since March 2008, when he began serving a 6 1/2-year sentence for fraud and obstructing justice.

The justices agreed to review a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Chicago that upheld the conviction in 2007 of Black and former Hollinger senior executives Peter Atkinson, John Boultbee and Mark Kipnis.

Black and the others had been accused of swindling the company -- once the world's third-largest publisher of English language newspapers -- out of $6.1 million by giving themselves illegal bonuses.

Black, who was Hollinger's former chairman and chief executive, Boultbee, the one-time executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Kipnis, the former corporate counsel and secretary, appealed to the Supreme Court.

Their lawyers sought to overturn their fraud convictions on the grounds the trial judge had given improper instructions to the jury that found them guilty. The U.S. Justice Department opposed the appeal.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case and issue a ruling during its upcoming term that begins in October.

(Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Doina Chiacu)

 
<p>Conrad Black arrives for his sentencing hearing in Chicago December 10, 2007. REUTERS/Stephen J. Carrera</p>