Conrad Black to keep fighting to avoid prison

Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:54pm EST
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fallen press baron Conrad Black has said he can survive the hard transition from a life of glamour and luxury to one of anonymity and menial prison labor, but he intends to go down fighting to overturn his guilty verdict.

"He's said he's innocent and we're going to the court of appeals to try to overturn this verdict," Black's Canadian lawyer Edward Greenspan said after U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve pronounced sentence on Monday.

A smile stole across Black's face as he strode away through the courthouse lobby and his lawyers said relief had replaced nervousness after his sentencing, but legal analysts differed as to whether 6-1/2 years was lenient, severe or just right.

"America is looking to make an example of senior directors and while Conrad Black's sentence was not harsh, it certainly was not lenient either," said Simon Bevan, a leading fraud investigator in London, where Black once ran the Daily Telegraph group of newspapers.

"He deserves every day he serves," said an editorial in one of Black's former flagship papers, the Chicago Sun-Times. "The Sun-Times suffered for years while Black conspired with former Sun-Times' publisher David Radler in their money-bleeding schemes."

Legal analysts also differed on Black's chances of reversing the jury's guilty verdict that he obstructed justice and defrauded shareholders of Hollinger International Inc, the former media giant he built and then dismantled.

Black, 63, has not wavered from his long-held stance that he is completely innocent, even in his remarks to the judge before his sentencing, and the judge said he had not accepted his guilt.

"We have the verdict we have and we can't retry the case," Black told the judge before she sentenced him to 6-1/2 years and ordered him to repay $6.1 million stolen from Hollinger in the scheme.   Continued...

<p>Conrad Black leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after his sentencing hearing in Chicago, December 10, 2007. REUTERS/John Gress</p>