Media baron Black sentenced to 6 1/2 years

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TORONTO -- Former Canadian press baron Conrad Black was sentenced Monday to 6 1/2 years in U.S. federal prison for obstruction of justice and mail fraud.

The fall of Canada's biggest newspaper publisher culminated in a Chicago courtroom, where judge Amy St. Eve sent Black to prison for his role in stealing $6.1 million from shareholders in U.S.-based publisher Hollinger International.

Black faced up to 24 years in prison. St. Eve opted instead for sentencing guidelines of six to eight years before finally settled on a term of 78 months.

Black also was fined $125,000 and ordered to forfeit $6.1 million to represent the proceeds of his crime. He is expected to appeal the conviction.

In July, Black and three other former Hollinger executives were found guilty of mail fraud for receiving noncompete payments after the sale of newspaper titles, money the jury concluded should have gone to Hollinger shareholders.

The three co-defendants -- Peter Atkinson, Jack Boultbee and Mark Kipnis -- also were to be sentenced Monday. St. Eve earlier acquitted Kipnis, a former Hollinger lawyer, on one fraud charge.

Before he was sentenced, Black made a short statement to the federal court, expressing "deep regret" to Hollinger shareholders for the loss of company equity. He did not extend the apology to his role in Hollinger's downfall.

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