Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Conrad Black Appeal

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday agreed to take up the fraud conviction of former newspaper baron Conrad Black, who is serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence in Florida.

The high court will hear the appeals of Black and three other former key executives convicted of fraud in connection with newspaper sales by the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Black, then chairman and CEO of the company formerly known as Hollinger International, and of the parent company, and former Hollinger senior executives Peter Atkinson, John Boultbee and Mark Kipnis, were convicted of fraud in 2007 in a federal court in Chicago for taking illegal bonuses in connection with the sale of community newspapers. Black was also convicted of obstruction of justice for taking documents in violation of a court order.

A previous appeal by the men was rejected unanimously by a federal appellate court in Chicago.

All except Atkinson appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the trial judge gave improper instructions to the jury.

The Supreme Court said it will hear the case when its next term begins in October.

Black began serving his prison sentence in March 2008.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday that a riot broke out in the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex near Orlando, where Black is serving his sentence. Eight inmates were seriously injured in the melee, with at least one reported to have a gunshot wound, the paper reported.

Black apparently was not involved in the disturbance.

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