Today a Chicago jury found Conrad Black guilty of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He could be sentenced to 35 years in jail.
Black’s lawyers will almost certainly appeal the convictions. But several experienced lawyers who have followed the case closely believe Black will do jail time. One of them predicted Black would go to jail for at least 10 years.
I am ambivalent about Black going to the slammer. I once worked for him when he owned Standard Broadcasting and I was hosting a talk show at CJAD. On the few occasions I met him, he was a stimulating and charming man. Most people who worked for him at the National Post remarked on his emphasis on press freedom even when he disagreed with certain columnists. There is no question that Black is a brilliant man who has written a number of well-received biographies of Maurice Duplessis, Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. Black may continue to write books, his business career is finished.
But the bottom line is this business buccaneer defrauded the shareholders of his companies of 60 million dollars. His arrogant belief that he was above the law deserves a signifcant stay in prison.
Is this the first time in his career that anyone has said “No” to Conrad Black?
The judge in the case will pronounce sentence on Nov. 30. Meantime the hard=nosed prosecution team is demanding that Black surrender his passport (he already has) and that he should be incarcerated immediatley because he is a flight risk?
Do you believe that Black is a flight risk and that he should go to the slammer next week?
Several years ago I went to St. Ignatius for Eric Kieran’s. Standing outside the church I got into an animated conversation with billionaire investment advisor, Stephen Jarislowski, whom I had gotten to know during my days at CJAD. Jarislowski had been on several boards with Black including the Southam board when Black owned that chain. Jarislowski summed him up succinctly, “He was full of hubris and he had larceny in his heart.”
And Peter Newman said, “Black deserves to go to prison.” I’m afraid he’s right.