Friday, May 4, 2012

Conrad Black released from prison

Conrad-Black-008 Former Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black has been released from prison in the US after serving about three years for defrauding investors and obstruction of justice.

The 67-year-old Canadian-born British citizen and peer, who famously threw a $42,000 birthday for his wife and is said to have told investors, "I can have a 747 if I want", was released from a low-security federal prison in Miami on Friday.

Black, whose media empire once included the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Chicago-Sun Times and Jersusalem Post, was immediately taken into custody by US immigration officials and now faces deportation.

He has stated his intention to return to Canada and regain the citizenship he renounced in 2001 when the government blocked him from accepting his peerage as Lord Black of Crossharbour. His criminal record, however, will mean he will have to wait at least five years to do so. Black has been granted a one-year temporary resident's permit by the Canadian government.

The former media tycoon was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after a 2007 conviction by a US federal jury for conspiring with business partner David Radler – who was also the chief prosecution witness against him at the trial – and other executives to siphon off cash from the sale of newspapers as they unwound publicly listed Hollinger International.

Black was chief executive and Radler, with whom he entered the media business in 1969 by buying Canadian title the Sherbrooke Record, was chief operating officer. Radler pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of 20 months in prison.

Black was released on bail after serving two-and-a-half years while his case was under an appeal, which resulted in two of his three fraud convictions being quashed. His original 78-month sentence was reduced to three years.

He returned to jail last September to serve another 13 months and with time off for good behaviour he has completed his sentence.

At the height of his success Black had an estimated fortune of £136m, along with homes in Florida, Kensington and an apartment in New York's Park Avenue.

He was renowned for a lavish lifestyle, including refurbishing a Rolls Royce for $90,000 and turning up to a ball in Kensington Palace dressed as Cardinal Richelieu alongside his wife, Barbara Amiel, who was dressed as Marie Antoinette.

The Guardian

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