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Media Mogul Conrad Black Released From Prison

Conrad Black

Former media mogul Conrad Black (CBS File Photo)

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MIAMI (CBS) — Media mogul Conrad Black has been released from prison, having completed about three of his 6 1/2–year sentence for defrauding investors.

Speaking to the Associated Press, U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke confirmed that Black had been released. He did not provide an exact time for Black’s release, and did not have other details.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Pat Cassidy reports

Black was returned to FCI Miami Florida, a low-security prison in Miami, after being released on an appeal bond for a year. He served 29 months of his sentence before that.

Having now been released, Black will be ordered out of the country, as he is a non-citizen with a felony conviction.

In 2007, Black was convicted along with three other former executives from the media empire Hollinger International of swindling the company’s shareholders out of $6.1 million. He was acquitted of nine other charges.

But the U.S. Supreme Court curtailed disputed “honest services” laws that underpinned part of the case against him, and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago tossed out two of Black’s fraud convictions last year.

But one conviction for fraud and one for obstruction of justice remained. The fraud conviction, the judges concluded, involved Black and others taking $600,000 and had nothing to do with honest services. It was, they asserted, straightforward theft.

In June of last year, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said Black would have to serve 13 more months of his sentence for defrauding the investors in Hollinger International, Inc., which once controlled the Chicago Sun-Times.

Black’s three-month trial drew international attention, heightened by his sometimes haughty comments. When shareholders grumbled about the cost of the Bora Bora trip, he wrote a memo saying: “I’m not prepared to re-enact the French revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility.”

At the core of the honest-services charges against Black was his strategy, starting in 1998, of selling off the bulk of the small community papers, which were published in smaller cities across the United States and Canada.

Black and other Hollinger executives received millions of dollars in payments from the companies that bought the community papers in return for promises that they would not return to compete with the new owners.

Prosecutors said the executives pocketed the money, which they said belonged to shareholders, without telling Hollinger’s board of directors.

Staffers at the Sun-Times have long blamed Black, his Sun-Times publisher F. David Radler, and other officials for looting the company and leaving it with a burden of $608 million in taxes and penalties. The Sun-Times Media Group filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

In addition to the Sun-Times, Hollinger also owned the Daily Telegraph of London, the Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers across this country and Canada.

Black renounced his Canadian citizenship to become a member of the British House of Lords.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)