Ex-media mogul Conrad Black to be resentenced

Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:56pm EDT
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former media mogul Conrad Black may be headed back to prison in light of a U.S. Appeals Court ruling on Friday that upheld his convictions on one of three fraud counts and obstruction of justice.

Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial judge to resentence Black on the affirmed counts, but took what legal experts said was an extraordinary step by urging prosecutors to "wind up this protracted litigation" and not retry him.

"We are pleased that the Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions on fraud and obstruction counts and we will make our further intentions known to the District Court at the appropriate time after we have studied the opinion carefully," the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago said in a statement.

The Canadian-born Black, 66, was freed on bail in July after spending nearly 2-1/2 years in a Florida prison, pending the outcome of his appeal. He was originally sentenced to 6-1/2 years in federal prison.

In considering what the new sentence should be, Posner suggested trial judge Amy St. Eve of the U.S. District court in Chicago consider the fraud evidence even in the dismissed counts -- which legal experts interpreted as meaning she could resentence Black to the same term as before and that he will be returned to prison.

"You can't really unscramble the egg," as far as unraveling what the new sentence will be now that two fraud convictions have been dismissed, said Ron Safer, an attorney who represented Hollinger attorney Mark Kipnis.

"She may decide to lessen the sentence," Safer added.

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<p>Conrad Black leaves a bail hearing with his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, in Chicago July 23, 2010. REUTERS/John Gress</p>