By: The Associated Press
(AP) A federal judge ordered Conrad Black to surrender his passport Friday, meaning the former media mogul can’t return to his home in Canada now that he’s free on $2 million bond.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve told Black’s lawyers that she needs more thorough financial information from Black before she decides whether to allow him to return to his Toronto home.
“I want more certainty,” she said. “I need more to make a fully informed decision.”
She ordered Black to turn over the passport, even though it’s expired, and said he won’t be allowed to obtain a new one without the court’s permission.
Black was freed from a federal prison in Florida on bail Wednesday after serving two years of a 6½-year sentence for defrauding Hollinger International Inc. investors out of millions of dollars.
St. Eve had ordered Black to return to court Friday to go over his bond conditions. As she read the conditions and asked Black if he understood them, he repeatedly replied, “Yes, your honor,” in a husky voice.
Black, who towered over his attorneys in a muted blue suit and red tie, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters and was whisked away in a waiting car.
Black’s friend and former business partner, Roger Hertog, posted the $2 million bond on Wednesday.
Black wants to return to Toronto because of the media attention outside his oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., and because his wife has medical conditions that make their Florida home unsuitable during the summer, his attorney Miguel Estrada said.
“The only abode that he has at present is his house in Toronto,” Estrada told St. Eve, noting that Black was allowed to live in Canada after his conviction and before his sentencing in 2008.
Black and three former Hollinger executives were convicted in 2007 of defrauding investors out of $6.1 million. One of the prosecutors’ arguments was that Black deprived the company of his faithful services as a corporate officer, breaking the so-called “honest services” law.
Black also was convicted of obstruction of justice after jurors saw a video of him carrying boxes of documents out of his offices, loading them into his car and driving off with them. The documents were sought by government investigators.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month limited the scope of the honest services law, leaving it to the 7th Circuit to determine whether to overturn Black’s conviction in whole or in part. The appeals court Monday granted Black’s motion for bail as he appeals his fraud conviction.
It remains unclear, however, where Black’s case stands in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
St. Eve ordered Black to return to court Aug. 16 for a hearing on his request to return to Canada.