December 17, 2007 / 4:42 PM / in 10 years

Judge gives Hollinger's Radler 29 months in prison

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday gave a 29-month prison sentence to David Radler, one-time president of media giant Hollinger International Inc, whose trial testimony helped convict former press baron Conrad Black.

<p>Former publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times David Radler leaves the Dirksen Federal Building after testimony in the Federal corruption trial of former Hollinger International Chairman Conrad Black in Chicago, Illinois, May 17, 2007. REUTERS/Frank Polich</p>

“I made mistakes and they hurt me and my family,” the former publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times said before sentence was imposed. “I will live my life with this and I‘m sorry for what I’ve done.”

Radler, a 65-year-old Canadian, had pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud in 2005 in an agreement that led to eight days of testimony at a trial that concluded in July. Radler admitted to a scheme to swindle Hollinger and its shareholders out of millions of dollars.

Black and three other former Hollinger executives pleaded not guilty and were convicted by a jury, with Black sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to 6-1/2 years. He was also fined $125,000 and ordered to forfeit $6.1 million.

St. Eve on Monday affirmed Radler’s agreed-to 29-month sentence and a fine of $250,000. He was ordered to surrender on February 25, and she agreed to recommend at his lawyer’s request that he be allowed to serve his time at a prison in Pennsylvania.

“You have breached your duty of trust, you have breached your duty of honesty ... but you’ve tried to right those wrongs,” the judge told Radler, noting that he had agreed to pay $61 million in restitution.

CANADA GUIDELINES

During last summer’s trial, lawyers defending Black and the others depicted star witness Radler as a liar whose plea agreement would have him out of jail after six months if he served his time in a Canadian jail, due to that country’s guidelines covering nonviolent crimes.

Radler’s lawyer, Anton Valukas, did not indicate whether Radler would later apply to serve his prison time in Canada, saying only that there were a number of Canadian inmates at the jail in Pennsylvania which he requested.

Last week, in sentencing Black, the judge cited Radler’s similar culpability and his plea agreement to serve 29 months, rejecting requests by prosecutors to sentence Black, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, to as many as 24 years in prison.

Black was convicted on three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He plans to appeal the verdict.

Radler and Black, once Hollinger International’s chairman and chief executive, were business associates for decades.

Together they turned Hollinger International into one of the world’s largest English-language publishing empires with properties that ranged from The Jerusalem Post to the Daily Telegraph in London to the Chicago Sun-Times. The much smaller company is now known as the Sun-Times Media Group SVN.N.

In testifying for the prosecution, Radler described how money flowed from the sale of newspapers and other properties that he and Black sold. That included millions of dollars in “noncompete” payments the government contended Black and the others pocketed instead of sending to Hollinger International for the benefit of its shareholders.

Non-compete payments are designed to prevent a seller from reentering the same market. But Black and the others were accused of using part of the numerous payments as tax-free bonuses for themselves.

Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Mike Conlon and Brian Moss

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