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Conrad Black released from prison
Media mogul freed on bail after serving two years for fraud.
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2010 20:10 GMT
Black with his wife at the Dirksen Federal courthouse in Chicago July 13, 2007 [REUTERS]

Former media mogul Conrad Black has left a federal prison in central Florida where he served two years of a 6 1/2-year sentence for a fraud conviction.

Adhering to rulings by higher courts, the US District Court set Black free on Wednesday but restricted him to the continental United States for the time being.

A friend of Black's posted his $2 million bond. The judge also ordered Black to appear before court in Chicago on Friday to go over the terms of his release.

"My gut tells me the (courts) don't release him on bail and then expect him to go back to jail," said Hugh Totten, a Chicago attorney who has closely followed the case.

The Canadian-born Black, a British peer who once led the world's third-largest newspaper publisher, with titles including London's Daily Telegraph, Canada's National Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, entered a Florida prison in March 2008.

Black and three other Hollinger International Inc. executives were convicted of defrauding shareholders out of $6.1 million.

No assets

Black's lawyer said that his client "does not have assets available to him" and that conservative businessman Roger Hertog would be providing his $2 million bond.

Black, 65, will travel to Chicago on a commercial flight from Florida and appear before court at midday on Friday.

Black's Palm Beach, Florida, mansion is now owned by a finance company, and he may live in a New York hotel while the appeal process continues, Black’s lawyer said.

Last month, Black won a victory when the US Supreme Court limited the reach of the federal fraud law that prosecutors used frequently in corruption cases against government officials and executives like Black and former Enron Corp Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling.

The high court stopped short of overturning convictions and sent the cases back to lower courts.

The federal law is applied to fraud cases in which a person is accused of depriving others of the intangible right to "honest services".

It has been criticised as being too vague and overused. Black still faces numerous civil suits related to Hollinger, and US tax authorities have demanded $71 million from him for unpaid taxes.

Source:
Agencies
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