(Reuters) - The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Thursday setting aside the 2007 conviction of former media baron Conrad Black for defrauding shareholders and obstruction of justice, for which he was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison.
Here are some key facts about the case:
* Born in Montreal on August 25, 1944, the son of a wealthy brewery executive, Black turned a 1969 investment of several hundred dollars in two small Canadian newspapers into what became Hollinger International, the world’s third-largest English-language newspaper empire with such marquee titles as London’s Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.
* In June 2001, Black renounced his Canadian citizenship so he could accept a lifetime seat in Britain’s House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour, named for the London neighborhood near the Daily Telegraph building, an honor that traditionally goes to the paper’s owner.
* In November 2003, an internal investigation of Hollinger concluded executives took unauthorized payments from Hollinger while selling off newspapers — which was later described by an investigator as a “corporate kleptocracy” — and Black resigned as chief executive and was subsequently removed as chairman.
* In August 2005, Black, partner David Radler, three other executives and the Ravelston Corp holding company were accused of fraud and other charges in a Chicago grand jury indictment. They all pleaded not guilty, with Black calling the accusations a “massive smear job from A to Z.”
* After a four-month trial in federal court in Chicago, Black and three other executives were found guilty by a jury of swindling the company out of $6.1 million in illegal bonuses. Prosecutors said shareholders were denied the executives’ “honest services,” applying a 1988 law. Black was found guilty of three fraud counts and obstruction of justice for removing boxes of documents from his Toronto offices during the investigation. Black appealed.
* Black began serving his 6-1/2 year sentence as inmate 18330-424 at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida, in March 2008. A well-regarded biographer of former U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt, Black spends time in prison writing book reviews and blogs about politics, and teaching history classes to fellow inmates. “This is a safe and civilized place,” he wrote Canadian reporters in an email.
Reporting by Andrew Stern, Nick Carey and Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Mohammad Zargham