Ex-media mogul Conrad Black sent back to prison

Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:34pm EDT
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday ordered former media baron Conrad Black back to prison for 13 more months, cutting his original 6 1/2-year sentence nearly in half for remaining fraud and obstruction of justice convictions.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, in pronouncing a total sentence of 42 months, told the 66-year-old member of Britain's House of Lords she was swayed by letters from fellow inmates and other factors in departing from federal guidelines calling for a stiffer resentencing.

Black's wife, Barbara Amiel Black, collapsed immediately in her seat after St. Eve ruled, and was assisted out of the courtroom by medical personnel.

She later walked out of the courthouse supported on her husband's arm, wearing sunglasses. A U.S. marshal who had rushed to her side said she was fine, and possibly dehydrated.

After serving 29 months in prison, Black was released in July 2010 based on a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court narrowed the scope of the federal honest services law used to help convict him and an appeals court subsequently voided two of three fraud counts against him. That necessitated the resentencing on Friday.

"It's a very serious crime," St. Eve told the silver-haired former chief executive of newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc.

"Corporate executives need to be sent a message that the company's money belongs to the company, and its shareholders," she said. "You had a duty of trust. The shareholders put their trust in you. And you violated that trust."

In departing from federal guidelines calling for Black to be resentenced to between 51 and 63 months, St. Eve cited his conduct in prison, his charitable work with the family foundation, his advanced age and the unlikelihood he would ever commit another crime.   Continued...

<p>Conrad Black arrives at the Federal Courthouse in Chicago for a status hearing, January 13, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress</p>