Conrad Black re-sentencing date set
Judge to issue new sentence in June if Supreme Court won't hear appeal
A judge in Chicago has set June 24 as the date for former media tycoon Conrad Black's re-sentencing if the U.S. Supreme Court turns down his appeal.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve set the date during a status hearing Thursday held to outline where the prosecution and defence intend to take the case.
Black had been sentenced to 6½-years in prison in 2007 on three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice and has served two years of that sentence in a Florida prison.
Two of the fraud convictions were overturned last year and his defence has since argued that as a result, his sentence should be amended, effectively arguing he has served enough time and should be released.
The former head of Hollinger Inc. has been out on bail since July 2010 while his lawyers appeal his remaining two convictions: for fraud and obstruction of justice.
On Thursday, Black's attorney, Miguel Estrada, told the judge the defence intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court by February to hear the appeal.
Before the defence can file a full appeal, the high court has to agree to hear the case — something that is far from a given.
As he left the court Thursday, Black said he understood his fate was in the high court's hands.
"We are waiting on the Supreme Court," he said.
The prosecution said it doesn't plan to ask for a retrial on the two fraud charges that were reversed in October. The appeals court that reversed those convictions cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that narrowed the application of so-called honest services laws.
The Supreme Court limited those to include only cases against executives or government officials centred on bribes or kickbacks. It ruled that those shouldn't have been used to help convict Black as they did not apply in his case.
The law stipulates that U.S. citizens are entitled to honest services from government and private citizens, even when no one suffers any loss. It holds that the definition of fraud includes a scheme to "deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."
The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the landmark high-court decision on honest services was only relevant in two of Black's three fraud convictions. The third conviction, the court found, involved Black and others taking $600,000 and had nothing to do with honest services. It was, it concluded, straightforward theft.
It let the one fraud conviction and a conviction for obstruction of justice conviction stand.
"I am hopeful," Black said when asked after the 15-minute hearing if he was confident about whether he would manage to stay out of prison.
Black, wearing a light blue suit and yellow tie, looked relaxed during his appearance at the courthouse, standing with his hands in his pockets and surveying courtroom benches filled with reporters just before proceedings got underway.
St. Eve ordered a pre-sentencing hearing for May and said she would ask for a new pre-sentencing report from federal authorities in advance of that to help guide her when determining an appropriate new sentence for Black.
The judge could decide that Black must return to prison for several more months or years or sentence him to time already served.
Black travelled to Thursday's hearing using a unique identification document.
Since he is subject to bail conditions, and his British passport has expired, he has a one-page court order signed by St. Eve allowing him to travel by commercial air carrier within the continental U.S.
Black, a Canadian-born member of the House of Lords, once owned the Chicago Sun-Times, the London Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post, the Southam chain of Canadian dailies and hundreds of other newspapers in North America.
With files from The Associated Press