Conrad Black gets 6 1/2 years in jail

Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:01pm EST
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge sentenced former media mogul Conrad Black on Monday to 6-1/2 years in prison for obstructing justice and defrauding shareholders in one-time newspaper publishing empire Hollinger International Inc., and ordered him to report to prison in 12 weeks.

"You've committed a very serious offense, Mr. Black," Judge Amy St. Eve of the U.S. District Court told the 63-year-old Black as he stood before her, but her sentence was at the low end of federal guidelines.

"Frankly I cannot understand how someone of your stature, on top of a media empire, could commit such acts," she added before imposing the sentence, which also carried a fine of $125,000 and an order that he forfeit $6.1 million.

Later she sentenced Black's co-defendants who were convicted of fraud. Jack Boultbee, 64, former Hollinger chief financial officer, got 27 months and former vice president and general counsel Peter Atkinson, 60, got 2 years.

But Mark Kipnis, 60, a former U.S. Hollinger lawyer who played a relatively minor role in the fraud, was given 5 years probation and ordered to spend six months at home on electronic monitoring, though he can go to work and to church during that time.

Black, one hand resting on a table in front of the judge, told St. Eve in a clear voice before she passed sentence that he wanted to "express very profound regret and sadness" to Hollinger shareholders for "the evaporation of $1.85 billion" in value.

The 6-1/2-year sentence was near the bottom of what the judge said was a possible range of 78 to 97 months, but a far cry from the 20-plus years prosecutors had requested.

The judge allowed Black to retain ownership of his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion, and said he could keep the multimillion-dollar payoff he got for the sale of his New York apartment.   Continued...

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