Resentencing date set for Conrad Black

January 13, 2011 1:08:54 PM PST
Prosecutors do not intend to retry former media mogul Conrad Black on fraud convictions that an appellate court tossed out last year.

Also at Thursday's hearing U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve set a June 24 resentencing date for Black on the two convictions that appellate judges had upheld. Defense attorneys asked the judge for a June date to give them a chance to file a new appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Black, whose media empire once included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and community papers in the U.S. and Canada, was expected to attend Thursday's hearing.

Two years into a 6 1/2-year sentence, Black was released last year from a Florida prison while he appealed his conviction for defrauding Hollinger International Inc. investors.

A three-judge panel tossed out a couple of his convictions because of the Supreme Court's decision last year limiting the "honest services" statute. However, the appellate court upheld his obstruction of justice and fraud convictions. The fraud conviction, the judges found, involved Black and others taking $600,000 and had nothing to do with honest services: It was, they concluded, straightforward theft.

The panel also rejected Black's petition for the entire nine-judge panel of the 7th circuit to review his case.

Prosecutors said they would not retry Black on the overturned convictions.

The Supreme Court's ruling drastically scaling back honest services laws offered a lifeline to Black and other public figures convicted using the provisions, including Jeffrey Skilling, the former CEO of disgraced energy giant Enron Corp.

Defense lawyers criticized honest services laws as vague and a last resort of prosecutors when they couldn't show money changed hands. Watchdogs countered they were key to fighting white-collar and public fraud.

Black's defense team hopes to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The former media mogul also has received a unique identification document now that his foreign passport is expired.

It's a one-page court order signed by Judge St. Eve. It indicates a British passport Black had been using as an ID has expired and says the four-sentence order will serve as "government-issued identification" enabling Black to travel by commercial air carrier within the continental U.S. He may have used to document already to travel to Chicago for Thursday's hearing.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)