CHICAGO — Conrad Black’s six-year prison sentence could come to an early end Wednesday exactly where it was handed down — in a courtroom in the American city where the disgraced Canadian-born media mogul was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice three years ago.
A U.S. District Court judge, the same one who presided over Black’s trial and sentenced him to a six-and-a-half year sentence in 2007, will outline Black’s bail conditions, which are expected to confine the former newspaper baron to the United States.
But it’s very possible that Black’s days as an inmate are over, said Jacob Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor.
“It is reasonable to expect that Mr. Black will walk out of the U.S. penitentiary some time on Wednesday and possibly never return,” Frenkel said.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted Black’s motion for bail Monday, weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the “honest services” law that was central to his fraud conviction and kicked his case back to a lower court.
The justices left it up to the lower court to decide whether the conviction should be overturned. That decision has not yet been made.
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. It’s possible he’s already served enough time to cover it, said Frenkel.
Black has, by all accounts, been a model prisoner at Coleman, where he’s been one of 1,000 criminals.