Conrad Black, the former chairman and chief executive of Hollinger International Inc., was found guilty by a federal jury on Friday of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice and acquitted of nine other counts, including racketeering and misuse of corporate perquisites, according to press reports. Three former Hollinger executives — including an ex-CFO — were found guilty of three counts of mail fraud. The four defendants were accused of defrauding the corporation and its shareholders of $60 million.
The prosecutors’ case focused on a big sell-off of Hollinger community newspapers published in the United States and Canada that was launched in 1998, according to the Associated Press. In seven of the deals, companies buying newspapers paid millions of dollars to Hollinger. For its part, the media company, now known as the Sun-Times media group, promised it wouldn’t compete with the new owners.
Black was charged with illegally diverting millions of dollars in noncompete payments to himself, co-defendants John Boultbee and Peter Atkinson, and former Hollinger chief operating officer F. David Radler, the wire service reported. Also convicted of mail fraud on Friday was ex-Hollinger corporate counsel Mark Kipnis. In 2005 Radler pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation of Black. Boultbee is a former Hollinger finance chief, and Atkinson was a vice president and attorney for the company.
Black reportedly faces a maximum prison term of 35 years and a top penalty of $1 million. Boultbee, Atkinson, and Kipnis each face up to 15 years in prison and maximum fines of $750,000.