March 4, 2008 / 12:04 AM / in 10 years

Former press baron Black begins U.S. prison term

COLEMAN, Florida (Reuters) - Former press baron Conrad Black surrendered at a Florida prison on Monday to begin serving his 6-and-1/2 year sentence for fraud and obstructing justice.

<p>Former media baron Conrad Black leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after his sentencing hearing in Chicago, in this December 10, 2007 file photo. Black, sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison for obstructing justice and defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc., must report to jail to begin serving his term by March 3, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress</p>

Britain’s Lord Black of Crossharbour and his wife arrived at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in central Florida around noon in a large blue sport utility vehicle with dark tinted windows, a Reuters photographer said.

The driver stopped at a guard gate and was waved inside the compound, then left about half an hour later, with only Barbara Amiel-Black in the back seat.

Black, 63, and other former Hollinger International Inc executives were accused of swindling the company out of $6.1 million by giving themselves illegal bonuses.

Black was convicted in July on charges of obstructing justice and defrauding shareholders of the company, once the world’s third-largest publisher of English-language newspapers.

He had been free on bond until Monday but was confined to the area around his Palm Beach, Florida, estate or near Chicago, where he was convicted and where Hollinger was once based.

Canadian-born Black, who once owned London’s Daily Telegraph and newspapers from the Jerusalem Post to Canada’s National Post, relinquished his Canadian citizenship to become a member of Britain’s House of Lords. If his conviction stands, he is likely to be deported after serving his U.S. sentence.

Internal auditors once accused Black of operating the newspaper chain as a “corporate kleptocracy.” The shrunken company is now called the Sun-Times Media Group Inc and has put itself up for sale.

Black has said he is innocent and remains confident that at least part of his conviction will be overturned on appeal, which would sharply reduce his sentence.

“My book about this outrage is almost ready, so if I must go, I will not be going quietly,” he said in an e-mail to, operated by Ireland’s Independent Newspapers.

“It’s like back to boarding school, without, one dares to assume, the tedium and indignity of corporal punishment.”

He did not stop to speak to journalists as he arrived at the prison.

Editing by Patricia Zengerle

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