Conrad Black at Florida mansion

Conrad Black has been released from a federal prison in Florida and returned to the oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach he rents.

Former media baron's associate puts up $2M US unsecured bond

Convicted former media mogul Conrad Black arrives at his rented oceanside mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., after being released from prison. ((Hans Deryk/Reuters))

Conrad Black has been released from a federal prison in Florida and returned to the oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach he rents.

Black, driven in a black SUV, pulled up to the mansion hours after he slipped out a back exit of the prison, while dozens of reporters and cameramen waited in the front.

"I can confirm he's no longer in our custody," Gary Miller, a spokesman for the prison, told The Canadian Press.

Members of the media stood watch outside of the Coleman Federal Prison where Conrad Black was confined, in Coleman, Fla., on Wednesday. ((Reinhold Matay/Associated Press))

Reporters and photographers stationed at Black's mansion swarmed the vehicle as it pulled up to the gates. The vehicle continued without stopping as the gate closed behind.

Black left the central Florida prison Wednesday after a $2-million bond was paid on his behalf, but a condition of his bail is that he will not be permitted to leave the United States.

Black retains access to the oceanfront mansion he used to own — a three-hour drive from the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in central Florida where he has been for the past 870 days.

The residence is owned by an outside party, but through an arrangement, Black is allowed access to the site until September.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve has requested that Black appear in her Chicago courtroom on Friday for a hearing at 12:30 p.m. CT.

"I'm very pleased he's … out," his lawyer, Miguel Estrada, told reporters upon leaving court in Chicago on Wednesday. "The next step is for him to appear in court on Friday."

Lawyers for Black argued earlier in the day in favour of the former media baron being allowed to return to Canada, where he owns a home in Toronto.

But that request was rejected, as prosecutors took issue with his need to leave the United States for now.

Black's British passport has expired, and St. Eve said he should not be granted a new passport unless it is his sole piece of identification. She wants to see a financial affidavit for Black before ruling whether he's allowed to leave the country, but for now the court is insisting that he remain within the continental United States.

The judge also said she will apply additional conditions on Black if she deems them appropriate on Friday.

Financier and Black associate Roger Hertog put up the money for a $2-million US unsecured bond required for Black's release. The two co-founded the New York Sun together.

Fraud charges set aside

In 2007, Black was sentenced to serve 6½ years on fraud and obstruction charges after being convicted of absconding with $6 million while he was in charge of defunct media conglomerate Hollinger International Inc.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the three fraud convictions on the grounds that the "honest services" law he was convicted under was inappropriate and over-reaching in his case.

Prosecutors in Chicago must now decide whether or not to retry him.

Even if prosecutors decide to not retry the case, that won't be the end of his legal woes. The Internal Revenue Service is pursuing Black for $71 million US in unpaid back taxes, a claim he rejects.

With files from The Canadian Press