Judge allows Conrad Black to remain free on bail
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge extended Conrad Black's $21 million bail on Wednesday but maintained restrictions that confine the former newspaper tycoon to an area around Chicago and his Florida estate while he awaits sentencing.
Judge Amy St. Eve of U.S. District in Chicago refused a request by Black's attorneys to allow him to go back to his Toronto home pending sentencing in her court on November 30.
Black, 62, was convicted last month of three counts of fraud and one count of obstructing justice for paying himself $3 million in illegal bonuses in the form of so-called non-compete payments from Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc.
Prosecutors had urged the judge to jail Black immediately, claiming he posed a flight risk because he misled the court in providing collateral for his $21 million bail and made critical comments about the government's case during the 15-week trial.
Judge St. Eve disagreed. "He's not a man to run and hide," she said at the bail hearing.
But St. Eve also said she was not persuaded by defense arguments that Black would not fight extradition from Canada, which would delay his sentencing.
After the guilty verdict on July 13, Black surrendered his British passport, and the judge ordered him to remain in the Chicago area. Black gave up his Canadian citizenship to become a member of Britain's House of Lords in 2001.
At a July 19 hearing, the judge permitted Black to also travel to his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion and the surrounding area.
Prosecutors have said they would seek a prison sentence of between 24 years and 30 years for Black. The defense says Black's conviction calls for a roughly five-year sentence.
Legal experts say Black would likely have to go to jail once he is sentenced, and while he appeals.
Black has vowed to appeal, noting the jury acquitted him on nine other charges that included fraud counts, racketeering, and filing false tax returns. He was originally accused of engineering a scheme to defraud Hollinger International out of $60 million in illegal bonuses, abusing company perks, and causing Hollinger to file false tax returns.
Three fellow former Hollinger International executives -- two of them Canadians and the other an American -- were also found guilty of multiple counts of fraud.
Hollinger International was the former publicly held company used by Black and David Radler, his long-time partner and later a government witness, to assemble hundreds of North American newspapers. Radler reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and has yet to be sentenced.
Once one of the world's largest newspaper publishing empires, Hollinger included London's Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Before being ousted from Hollinger in 2003 and 2004, Black and Radler sold many of the newspapers. The company has since shrunk to the Sun-Times and several regional newspapers and been renamed the Sun-Times Media Group Inc. ()
(Reporting by James Kelleher and Andrew Stern, editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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