White Collar Crime

Media Mogul Convicted of Mail Fraud

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Updated: A federal jury has convicted media mogul Conrad Black of mail fraud for diverting money from Hollinger International Inc., the Associated Press reports.

He faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Black and three co-defendants were each found guilty of three counts of mail fraud, the AP account says. They are former Hollinger vice president Peter Atkinson, ex-chief financial officer John Boultbee, and general counsel Mark Kipnis.

Black was also convicted of obstruction of justice. He was acquitted of nine counts, including charges of wire fraud and racketeering.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve of Chicago is likely to allow Black to remain free pending an appeal, the New York Times reports.

Prosecutors had claimed Black, Atkinson and Boultbee swindled the Hollinger newspaper company out of $60 million, according to the CanWest News Service. Prosecutors had contended the money was disguised as noncompete payments from buyers of Hollinger media properties.

Kipnis was accused of helping arrange the illegal transactions. His defense lawyer argued any mistakes he made were due to lack of skill rather than criminal intent.

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog says some of Black’s acquittals were related to accusations that he used company money to support a lavish lifestyle. “The Bora Bora vacation was kosher – non-compete payments were not,” the blog says in its summary of the verdict.

Bloomberg News quotes a former federal prosecutor who says government perseverance paid off in the case.

“The government overcame a very shaky start to win this case,” said Jacob Frenkel, now in private practice in Rockville, Md. “They were able to pull a rabbit out of the hat.”

The trial began March 20.

Earlier this week, jurors told the judge they were deadlocked in the case. (See this ABAJournal.com post for details.)

Originally posted on 07-13-2007 at 10:14 AM.

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