Conrad Black to Court: Don’t Listen to My Co-Defendants

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By: E&P Staff

Deposed newspaper baron Conrad Black doesn’t want the jury in his upcoming federal racketeering trial to hear some statements his co-defendants made to a Hollinger International Inc. directors committee investigating the alleged looting of the Chicago Sun-Times corporate parent.

In a filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago, lawyers for Black contend his constitutional right to confront accusers at trial would be violated if the statements made by the former Hollinger executives to the so-called special committee were admitted.

Prosecutors in the case, which comes to trial March 14, said earlier this month in a voluminous filing called a Santiago proffer that they want to use comments made to the committee by Black’s co-defendants, former Executive Vice President Peter Y. Atkinson, former CFO John “Jack” Boultbee, and former General Counsel Mark Kipnis. All three and Black have pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud charges for the alleged theft of more than $80 million from Hollinger International, mostly by pocketing bogus non-compete payments made during the company’s massive sell-off of its American and Canadian community papers.

According to prosecutors, Atkinson, for example, said he considered the non-compete payments a bonus for closing one of the deals.

“Mr. Black of course cannot compel the declarant/co-defendants to assume the witness stand for cross examination,” Black’s lawyers said in their filing Tuesday.

Repeating the comments at trial without the opportunity to cross-examine amounts to inadmissible hearsay, the lawyers said.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy J. St. Eve had previously set a status hearing in the case for Feb. 9, when she is likely to rule on Black’s motion.

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