Conrad Black has lost his bid to remain out of prison while he appeals his fraud and obstruction-of-justice convictions and must prepare to go to jail by March 3, a U.S. federal judge ordered Thursday.

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Convicted newspaper mogul Conrad Black arrives at the federal building in Chicago in December for sentencing in his racketeering and fraud trial. ((M. Spencer Green/Associated Press))

The former chief executive of Hollinger International in December was sentenced to 6½ years in prison for his role in the misappropriation of millions of dollars from the newspaper empire he once headed. He was also fined $125,000 US.

Black's lawyers had requested their client remain free on bail until June 15, which is around the time his appeal of the conviction is expected to be heard.

In an order issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said that though Black is not considered a flight risk or danger to the community, his lawyers had not shown that his grounds for appeal would likely prompt a new trial or reversal in the convictions.

As a result or the order, Black, 63, has until March 3 to report to prison. He is currently free on a $21-million US bond.

His lawyers have asked that he be allowed to serve his sentence at the minimum-security Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida.

Under U.S. rules, Black must serve at least 85 per cent of his sentence.

Black guilty of mail fraud, obstruction

In July, Black was convicted of three counts of mail fraud relating to the diversion of millions of dollars in non-compete payments from the sale of Hollinger newspapers.

Black was also found guilty of one count of obstruction of justice for removing boxes of documents from his Toronto office.

He was acquitted of nine other charges, including racketeering.

Prosecutors had pressed for a sentence of 19 to 24 years. The Montreal-born Black faced a maximum possible sentence of 35 years.

His three co-accused — John Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis — were also convicted of three counts of mail fraud each.

Boultbee and Atkinson were each sentenced to jail terms of 27 and 24 months respectively. Kipnis, who had one of the convictions against him thrown out, was given five years' probation.

With files from the Canadian and Associated Press