By: The Associated Press
Conrad Black walked out of a federal prison in Coleman, Fla., Wednesday afternoon after 28 months of incarceration. Earlier in the day, a federal judge set bond at $2 million, ruling that the former media mogul can’t leave the continental United States and must return to a Chicago courtroom to receive further conditions of his release.
The decision from U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve came just two years into the 6 1/2-year sentence Black received for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars.
Black, who did not attend the brief hearing, could be released from a Florida prison as early as Wednesday, but attorneys gave no indication of when that would happen.
Officials at the Coleman, Fla., facility had not yet received paperwork on Wednesday to process Black’s release, said prison spokesman Gary Miller.
Black’s attorneys asked that Black be allowed to return to Canada where he owns a home in Toronto, but St. Eve asked for an affidavit on Black’s finances before ruling on the request. She said Black could keep his passport, but only if it was used for travel within the United States and was the only identification he had.
St. Eve did not set a court date for Black in Chicago.
Black and three former Hollinger International executives were convicted in 2007 of defrauding shareholders 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 high court’s ruling didn’t affect the obstruction of justice count.
Hollinger International once owned the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, The Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers in the U.S. and Canada.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday granted Black’s motion for bail as he appeals his 2007 fraud conviction. The decision came just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the “honest services” law that was central to Black’s conviction.
The appeals court will eventually decide whether to overturn Black’s conviction in whole or in part, leaving prosecutors to determine whether to retry him. If they don’t, Black would remain free. But the appeals court could toss the fraud charge and keep the obstruction of justice count, and order St. Eve to hold a new sentencing hearing.