Former media baron Conrad Black has returned to prison to finish his sentence for fraud after again asserting his innocence in a new memoir and a recent profile in Vanity Fair magazine.
Black surrendered to authorities Tuesday and will spend the rest of his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, a low security prison 50 kilometres from the Florida city’s downtown, next to the Miami zoo.
Those who have followed the trials and tribulations of the Montreal-born businessman now in the home stretch of his prison sentence say he is moving towards regaining the form he showed before becoming a convict nearly four years ago.
“At this point, I think he’s gearing up for Part 2, which is going to be his release from prison, and then I expect him to be the old Conrad again,” said Chicago lawyer Andrew Stoltmann, who has long followed Black’s case through the U.S. justice system.
“I think you’re going to see a combative Conrad Black and he’s going to do what Conrad has always done, which is make headlines and do it his way.”
Black, 67, had been free on bail for about a year after an appeal court reversed two of his three fraud convictions.
He was resentenced in June by Judge Amy St. Eve, who also handed down his original term of 78-months in 2007. With credits for time already served, Black was ordered earlier this summer to spend up to another 13 months behind bars.
Jacob Frenkel, a former SEC enforcement lawyer and watcher of the Black case, said if Martha Stewart can make a corporate comeback, so can Black.
“He’s not going to vanish off the public stage,” Frenkel said. “Our western society tends to applaud those who have been broken and rebound.”
Stewart, 70, recently returned to the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. following her five-year ban from serving on the board or as an executive of a public company.
That ban was part of a settlement after insider trading allegations that led to her 2004 conviction for lying to investigators over a stock sale. Stewart, who spent five months in a U.S. prison, neither admitted nor denied the trading allegations in the settlement.
But Frenkel noted nothing short of a presidential pardon is going to erase the conviction for Black.
“He cannot rewrite the history of what occurred in the courts,” Frenkel said.
Black spent his first stint behind bars at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in central Florida.
Inmates work in a variety of roles at the prison including cooks and medical orderlies. They also serve as tutors and law clerks.
Black will be limited in the number of two-hour visits he may have in a month and in the number of visitors who can be at the prison at one time.
A new memoir by Black titled A Matter of Principle was released last week ahead of a planned date later this month.
In the 592-page book, Black asserts his innocence and recounts his legal battles.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Black spoke of his first stint in prison during which he hosed down shower stalls and said he earned the respect of “Mafia people.”
“I quickly developed alliances with the Mafia people, then the Cubans,” Black said in the interview for the magazine’s October edition.
“I was friendly with the good ol’ boys and the African-Americans. They all understood I had fought the system and I do believe I earned their respect for that.”
In an apparent reference to what’s left of his wealth, Black told the magazine “I can live on $80 million.”
Black’s holdings were once worth hundreds of millions of dollars and included control over the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and newspapers across Canada and the United States.
In Canada, Black once owned the former Southam and Hollinger chains, but they were eventually sold off.