International business executive Lord Conrad Black had built Hollinger International into a major media company that included ownership of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post and the London Daily Telegraph. In late 2003, Mr. Black stepped down as Hollinger International’s chief executive amid charges he and others took unauthorized payments from the company. In 2007 the firm defended him in Chicago federal court against 14 charges of criminal racketeering, money laundering, wire and mail fraud, tax and obstruction charges for allegedly helping to defraud Hollinger International of $84 million.
In July 2007 the federal court jury acquitted Mr. Black of nine charges, including the racketeering charge, but found him guilty of three counts of mail fraud and a single count of obstruction of justice. He was sentenced in December of 2007 to serve more than six years in prison. However, in June 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States significantly narrowed the scope of the law used by federal prosecutors in the case and accordingly called into question the fraud convictions of Mr. Black and former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. The justices unanimously called a broad interpretation of the law, which makes it a crime ‘to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services,’ unconstitutionally vague and returned Mr. Black’s case to the lower courts.