Chicago Appeals Court Throws Out Two Conrad Black Fraud Convictions


TORONTO -- Fallen Canadian media baron Conrad Black on Friday scored a partial legal victory that could keep him from returning to the pokey.

A Chicago appeals court threw out two fraud convictions that sent Black to jail for six and a half-years.

At the same time, Black, now out on bail, faces resentencing on two other 2007 convictions for obstruction of justice and fraud that the Chicago court upheld.

Toronto-based Black was released from prison in Florida two months ago to await the appeals court decision on the mail fraud and obstruction of justice convictions in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court redefinition of an "honest services" statute on which he was convicted.

Black's original convictions stemmed from the sale of Hollinger International newspapers as far back as 1988, and included the 2000 sale of 13 major Canadian newspapers to Canadian broadcaster CanWest Global Communications for $3.04 billion.

In 2003, U.S. authorities began investigating the "non-compete" fees that Black and his associates pocketed when selling off newspaper titles, leading to criminal charges.

During the upcoming resentencing hearing, the Chicago court will likely taken into consideration the two years in jail that Black had already served before his recent release.

Chicago prosecutors will also need to consider whether to retry Black on the two reversed fraud convictions.