By: E&P Staff
Three months before his federal criminal racketeering trial is to begin, disgraced former newspaper mogul Conrad Black has been giving special Christmas gifts to his friends, Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed reported Friday — T-shirts with his picture above an all-caps legend, “CONRAD WILL WIN.”
“Sneed hears Black signs the back of each shirt and inscribes a personal message to the recipient,” the columnist wrote. “Lord Black of Crossharbour has chutzpah,” Sneed added, referring to his title in the British House of Lords.
But Black himself received only a lump of coal Thursday from the federal judge who will preside over his trial in Chicago next March. U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve. rejected all nine of the pretrial motions from Black and his co-defendants to dismiss the charges because the fraud statute making it a crime for corporate officers to deprive a company of the right to “honest services” is too vague.
Black, the former chairman of Hollinger International — the Chicago Sun-Times parent corporation now known as Sun-Times Media Group — is charged along with Hollinger Executive Vice President Peter Y. Atkinson; former Hollinger CFO John “Jack” Boultbee; and General Counsel Mark Kipnis with racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud charges for the alleged theft of more than $80 million from the company.
All have pleaded not guilty.
Black is also charged with filing false income tax returns that underreported his income in 1999 and 2000 by $29 million.
Ravelston Corp. Ltd., a Toronto-based holding company now in receivership, has also pleaded not guilty to racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering and tax charges. Ravelston was one of the holding companies Black used to control a worldwide newspaper empire that once included the Daily Telegraph in London and the Jerusalem Post.
Former Sun-Times Publisher F. David Radler, who as Black’s right-hand man helped build the newspaper chain, has pleaded guilty to a single charge of mail fraud in a plea bargaining for a reduced sentence and a plea to testify against Black and the others.