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A Lord is Sentenced


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Today, Conrad Black, formerly a Canadian, and now a British Lord, will be sentenced in a Chicago court for his role in a swindle at his newspaper chain based in the US. This case has riveted Canadians, particularly since for years Black heaped scorn and abuse on his fellow-Canadians for their apparent short-comings, at least in his view. As the owner of the largest newspaper chain in Canada, he had a mighty pulpit from which to preach. He founded a national newspaper in Toronto to do just that.

 

When he wanted to become a British Lord, that was denied him by the government of the day in Ottawa, so he relinquished his citizenship and joined the House of Lords in London. Life seemed sweet indeed. Then came the Enron type scandals and the change in attitudes towards corporate malfeasance. Rules were tightened up but Lord Black took no notice of this. He continued to dip into the coffers of his publically traded company to furnish his lavish lifestyle.

 

Then along came a determined shareholder in Boston who was not happy when he read of the extravagant lifestyle of Lord Black and looked at the paltry returns he was earning on his investment in Lord Black's enterprise. So he asked some penetrating questions at a shareholders' meeting and when he was blown off by Lord Black, he did not crawl under a rock but rather went to the authorities. And the authorities listened. And the rest is history. Black was found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice last summer. Today he faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years although most say he will get from 7 to 10 years.

 

It is a cautionary tale in many ways and almost Shakespearean in its tragic dimensions. Black himself is a pompous aristocrat who never went over very well in a middle class country such as Canada. He castigated Canadians' penchant for socialist, left-leaning public policy but now faces the rigors of a much more robust US style of justice which he once favoured.

 

Were he a Canadian he could serve his sentence in Canada where he would be eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence in a minimum type facility where he would be able to keep a horse for his personal amusement if he wished and could play golf to his heart's content (I am not kidding about this). Since he is a foreigner in the US he will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence and not in a minimum security facility. The irony of it is not lost on Lord Black, you can be sure.

 

It will be interesting to hear what he has to say in his own words before the court today since he did not testify on his own behalf (his lawyers thought he would a disaster on the stand, as he had been in the Delaware court before Chancellor Leo Shrine (sp?) in an earlier hearing). He continues to protest his innocence and has launched an appeal so he will likely continue in that vein. He is not likely to be granted bail so he will be heading to prison fairly soon, maybe after Christmas if the judge is feeling kindly towards him.

 

Lord Black is in his sixties. He will likely be in his seventies when he emerges from prison. For a guy who has lived like a plutocrat all his life (he was raised in an affluent family in Toronto), it is a sorry end. The only question remaining is whether his wife (second) who has been married 3 times previously will stick with him through his coming ordeal or will she ditch him for a better prospect as she has done three times already. Stay tuned.

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I've never really cared for Conrad, excuse me, Lord Black; though I thought it was typically mean-spirited of Chretien to force him to give up his citizenship in order to take the peerage that he was offered by the British government.

 

But from what I read/saw about his trial, I was very dismayed to watch the prosecution display a sense of vindictiveness combined with incompetence, particularly upon Black's co-defendants. It has certainly made me re-evaluate my opinion of the US 'justice' system. I'm not saying that Black was as pure as driven snow or innocent like a lamb, but it seems to me that he was the victim of a group of shareholders (who, when they seized control of Hollinger, lost far more money than Black ever did) that were effective in enlisting judges and DA's who wanted to prove the US is 'tough' on white-collar crime (particularly when committed by non-Americans) and that his co-defendents were bludgeoned with every mechanism of the law because they believed themselves to be innocent and refused to plea-bargain.

 

But then that's just my view,

Alan

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I think Chretien had every right to deny Black a title while he held Canadian citizenship. This has been a long-standing practice by Canadian governments of all political stripes. The last Canadian to be given a lordship was about 70 years ago and in the 60's, when Kenneth Thomson, another Canadian press baron, wanted to accept a seat in the House of Lords, he also relinquished his Canadian citizenship (although his children did not and they have inherited the title).

 

As a matter of fact, Canadians are not barred from inheriting a title from England. They just cannot seek one out. Recognizing that Canadians of distinction wanted something to recognize their merit, the government instituted the Order of Canada, in a way to compensate. As a sovereign country, it really is not appropriate, IMO, for Canadians to be lining up for foreign honours, particularly titles. I would exclude such things as the Legion of Honour or other honourifics which recognize bravery or acts of chivalry.

 

Some would say Chretien acted in a mean-spirited way, as you have, but then there was a history between Chretien and Black. Black's newspapers had attacked Chretien over various alleged scandals and Black of all people knew what kind of a person Chretien is. He is street-fighter who will not hesitate to strangle anyone who gets in his way (literally). And while Chretien has had his fair share of problems, he must be having the last laugh in the Black affair.

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>what kind of a person

>Chretien is. He is street-fighter who will not hesitate to

>strangle anyone who gets in his way (literally).

 

That's what I exactly what I'm talking about when I say mean-spirited! ;)

 

As for foreign awards, I simply think we should be consistent. Either we bar Canadians from accepting all awards/honours given by the governments of other countries or we should allow them. I could see a distinction being made for peerages in the days when a Lord became a Member of the British Parliament and could sit in the British Cabinet (e.g. Lord Beaverbrook). But at the time this came up reforms were underway (and are now complete) to bar most Lords from sitting in the House of Lords unless elected there by their peers. At this point, a peerage is simply the highest apex of the British honours system and receipients aren't any less 'chivalrous' or 'brave' than the 100,000+ members of the French Legion d'Honneur, many of whom are civil servants, businessmen, etc.

 

Allowing the government-of-the-day the right to pick and choose which foreign awards and honours Canadians are 'allowed' to accept while retaining their citizenship intrudes a bit too far for my taste.

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>what kind of a person

>Chretien is. He is street-fighter who will not hesitate to

>strangle anyone who gets in his way (literally).

 

That's what I exactly what I'm talking about when I say mean-spirited! ;)

 

As for foreign awards, I simply think we should be consistent. Either we bar Canadians from accepting all awards/honours given by the governments of other countries or we should allow them. I could see a distinction being made for peerages in the days when a Lord became a Member of the British Parliament and could sit in the British Cabinet (e.g. Lord Beaverbrook). But at the time this came up reforms were underway (and are now complete) to bar most Lords from sitting in the House of Lords unless elected there by their peers. At this point, a peerage is simply the highest apex of the British honours system and receipients aren't any less 'chivalrous' or 'brave' than the 100,000+ members of the French Legion d'Honneur, many of whom are civil servants, businessmen, etc.

 

Allowing the government-of-the-day the right to pick and choose which foreign awards and honours Canadians are 'allowed' to accept while retaining their citizenship intrudes a bit too far for my taste.

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My understanding of the reforms that Tony Blair's government ushered in was that all Lords still can sit in the House of Lords (which is part of the Parliament) but that hereditary Lords no longer qualify to vote on legislation. I was not aware of a distinction being made between life peerages as between those who can vote and those who cannot. I thought all persons who are elevated to the peerage these days are qualified to vote. I do know that in Black's case, some have taken issue with the low number of days he has taken his seat in the Lords.

 

In Beaverbrook's case, he started his political career in the UK by running for Parliament. He was first given a knighthood and later an hereditary peerage. After he became a Lord, he was taken into Churchill's war cabinet. He was still a Lord and could vote on legislation in that chamber. Even in Canada, we have Senators who sit in cabinet such as Michel Fortier, the current Minister of Public Works.

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My understanding of the reforms that Tony Blair's government ushered in was that all Lords still can sit in the House of Lords (which is part of the Parliament) but that hereditary Lords no longer qualify to vote on legislation. I was not aware of a distinction being made between life peerages as between those who can vote and those who cannot. I thought all persons who are elevated to the peerage these days are qualified to vote. I do know that in Black's case, some have taken issue with the low number of days he has taken his seat in the Lords.

 

In Beaverbrook's case, he started his political career in the UK by running for Parliament. He was first given a knighthood and later an hereditary peerage. After he became a Lord, he was taken into Churchill's war cabinet. He was still a Lord and could vote on legislation in that chamber. Even in Canada, we have Senators who sit in cabinet such as Michel Fortier, the current Minister of Public Works.

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>My understanding of the reforms that Tony Blair's government

>ushered in was that all Lords still can sit in the House of

>Lords (which is part of the Parliament) but that hereditary

>Lords no longer qualify to vote on legislation. I was not

>aware of a distinction being made between life peerages as

>between those who can vote and those who cannot. I thought all

>persons who are elevated to the peerage these days are

>qualified to vote. I do know that in Black's case, some have

>taken issue with the low number of days he has taken his seat

>in the Lords.

It's a bit confusing. I was mistaken in thinking the same measures that applied to hereditary peers where some, in fact, can vote (either based on their offices (e.g. Lord Marshal) or being elected by their fellows) also applied to life peerages, which it doesn't. Though with the House of Commons pushing for an all-elected 2nd House or an 80% elected, 20% appointed house, this will likely be moot in a few years anyhow.

 

>In Beaverbrook's case, he started his political career in the

>UK by running for Parliament. He was first given a knighthood

>and later an hereditary peerage. After he became a Lord, he

>was taken into Churchill's war cabinet. He was still a Lord

>and could vote on legislation in that chamber. Even in Canada,

>we have Senators who sit in cabinet such as Michel Fortier,

>the current Minister of Public Works.

 

Yes, but in Britain, no peer has held a major Cabinet post (other than Leader of the House or Lord Chancellor, who must sit in the Lords) since 1982.

 

This tends to confirm my assertion that peerages are more honours these days than appointments to the government/legislature of another country, which they were in days gone by

 

 

Anyway, back to the original topic, according to the Globe and Mail, the Judge (Amy St. Eve) is considering a sentence of 78-97 months, which is a far cry from the 20+ years the prosecution was asking for. She's also determined the amount of fraud to be $6.1 million (at the the outset of the case, I think the prosecution figure was around $120 million, brought down to $32 million out the outset of sentencing). The Judge in the case has also ruled that Black was not the leader or instigator of the fraud (which kinda begs the question of who was then? ;) ). It's turning out to be one of those cases where the trial (and there are still appeals in the works) is costing taxpayers far more than the amount of the 'fraud'. I guess there's justice in there somewhere... ;)

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>My understanding of the reforms that Tony Blair's government

>ushered in was that all Lords still can sit in the House of

>Lords (which is part of the Parliament) but that hereditary

>Lords no longer qualify to vote on legislation. I was not

>aware of a distinction being made between life peerages as

>between those who can vote and those who cannot. I thought all

>persons who are elevated to the peerage these days are

>qualified to vote. I do know that in Black's case, some have

>taken issue with the low number of days he has taken his seat

>in the Lords.

It's a bit confusing. I was mistaken in thinking the same measures that applied to hereditary peers where some, in fact, can vote (either based on their offices (e.g. Lord Marshal) or being elected by their fellows) also applied to life peerages, which it doesn't. Though with the House of Commons pushing for an all-elected 2nd House or an 80% elected, 20% appointed house, this will likely be moot in a few years anyhow.

 

>In Beaverbrook's case, he started his political career in the

>UK by running for Parliament. He was first given a knighthood

>and later an hereditary peerage. After he became a Lord, he

>was taken into Churchill's war cabinet. He was still a Lord

>and could vote on legislation in that chamber. Even in Canada,

>we have Senators who sit in cabinet such as Michel Fortier,

>the current Minister of Public Works.

 

Yes, but in Britain, no peer has held a major Cabinet post (other than Leader of the House or Lord Chancellor, who must sit in the Lords) since 1982.

 

This tends to confirm my assertion that peerages are more honours these days than appointments to the government/legislature of another country, which they were in days gone by

 

 

Anyway, back to the original topic, according to the Globe and Mail, the Judge (Amy St. Eve) is considering a sentence of 78-97 months, which is a far cry from the 20+ years the prosecution was asking for. She's also determined the amount of fraud to be $6.1 million (at the the outset of the case, I think the prosecution figure was around $120 million, brought down to $32 million out the outset of sentencing). The Judge in the case has also ruled that Black was not the leader or instigator of the fraud (which kinda begs the question of who was then? ;) ). It's turning out to be one of those cases where the trial (and there are still appeals in the works) is costing taxpayers far more than the amount of the 'fraud'. I guess there's justice in there somewhere... ;)

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Final sentence for Lord Black - 78 months, restitution of the $6.1 million, and a $125K fine. It would seem this is the minimum the Judge could impose given the guilty verdict by the jury and the conditions of the case.

 

The surrender date (i.e. the date he must give himself up to the authorities to be imprisoned) is March 3, 2008, so it doesn't appear that he will be allowed to stay out indefinitely on bail until his appeal is heard.

 

One of the things that struck me is how long this case took to conduct once it went to trial. The trial itself was months long and then the delay between the verdict and sentencing, more months, is almost inconceivable in a Canadian court...

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Final sentence for Lord Black - 78 months, restitution of the $6.1 million, and a $125K fine. It would seem this is the minimum the Judge could impose given the guilty verdict by the jury and the conditions of the case.

 

The surrender date (i.e. the date he must give himself up to the authorities to be imprisoned) is March 3, 2008, so it doesn't appear that he will be allowed to stay out indefinitely on bail until his appeal is heard.

 

One of the things that struck me is how long this case took to conduct once it went to trial. The trial itself was months long and then the delay between the verdict and sentencing, more months, is almost inconceivable in a Canadian court...

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>Then along came a determined shareholder in Boston who was not

>happy when he read of the extravagant lifestyle of Lord Black

>and looked at the paltry returns he was earning on his

>investment in Lord Black's enterprise. So he asked some

>penetrating questions at a shareholders' meeting and when he

>was blown off by Lord Black, he did not crawl under a rock but

>rather went to the authorities.

 

It's interesting to note that after Black was removed from control of the company by judicial order, the value of the company's shares declined by over $1 billion dollars leaving most shareholders today with stocks that are virtually worthless. It's also interesting that the majority of charges of which he was acquitted included those relating to the 'padding' of his expenses to support this 'extravagant lifestyle'.

 

>Were he a Canadian he could serve his sentence in Canada where

>he would be eligible for parole after serving a third of his

>sentence in a minimum type facility where he would be able to

>keep a horse for his personal amusement if he wished and could

>play golf to his heart's content (I am not kidding about

>this). Since he is a foreigner in the US he will have to serve

>85 percent of his sentence and not in a minimum security

>facility.

 

Such an arrangement is only possible if the prosecution agrees to such a transfer (i.e. as the result of a plea-bargain, which was the case of David Radler who pled guilty in return for testifying against Black and the others). Thus, the other 2 Canadians sentenced today with Black (to the same 78 month terms) will have to serve their sentences in a US prison as well and not be eligible for parole until 85% of the sentence is served. The 4th defendent, an American, received the same sentence, but can be paroled earlier to a halfway house and be housed in a camp or other minimum-security facility.

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>Then along came a determined shareholder in Boston who was not

>happy when he read of the extravagant lifestyle of Lord Black

>and looked at the paltry returns he was earning on his

>investment in Lord Black's enterprise. So he asked some

>penetrating questions at a shareholders' meeting and when he

>was blown off by Lord Black, he did not crawl under a rock but

>rather went to the authorities.

 

It's interesting to note that after Black was removed from control of the company by judicial order, the value of the company's shares declined by over $1 billion dollars leaving most shareholders today with stocks that are virtually worthless. It's also interesting that the majority of charges of which he was acquitted included those relating to the 'padding' of his expenses to support this 'extravagant lifestyle'.

 

>Were he a Canadian he could serve his sentence in Canada where

>he would be eligible for parole after serving a third of his

>sentence in a minimum type facility where he would be able to

>keep a horse for his personal amusement if he wished and could

>play golf to his heart's content (I am not kidding about

>this). Since he is a foreigner in the US he will have to serve

>85 percent of his sentence and not in a minimum security

>facility.

 

Such an arrangement is only possible if the prosecution agrees to such a transfer (i.e. as the result of a plea-bargain, which was the case of David Radler who pled guilty in return for testifying against Black and the others). Thus, the other 2 Canadians sentenced today with Black (to the same 78 month terms) will have to serve their sentences in a US prison as well and not be eligible for parole until 85% of the sentence is served. The 4th defendent, an American, received the same sentence, but can be paroled earlier to a halfway house and be housed in a camp or other minimum-security facility.

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If there is any lesson to be learned here, it is that once you are caught with your fingers in the cookie jar, you need to come to terms with your crime and not deny, deny, deny until the sentencing occurs. Radler, whom many say was the instigator or ringleader in these financial abuses, by cooperating with the prosecutors, will probably spend less than 10 months in jail in Canada. Conrad is facing about 6 years with time off for good behavior. And Radler saved a heck of a lot of money in lawyers fees. Conrad has just hired Alan Dershowitz so you can see where his legal fees are heading.

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If there is any lesson to be learned here, it is that once you are caught with your fingers in the cookie jar, you need to come to terms with your crime and not deny, deny, deny until the sentencing occurs. Radler, whom many say was the instigator or ringleader in these financial abuses, by cooperating with the prosecutors, will probably spend less than 10 months in jail in Canada. Conrad is facing about 6 years with time off for good behavior. And Radler saved a heck of a lot of money in lawyers fees. Conrad has just hired Alan Dershowitz so you can see where his legal fees are heading.

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>If there is any lesson to be learned here, it is that once

>you are caught with your fingers in the cookie jar, you need

>to come to terms with your crime and not deny, deny, deny

>until the sentencing occurs.

 

In other words, if the government thinks you're guilty, you'd better plead guilty, because you'll get a lighter sentence. And if you're convicted, you'd better not appeal or maintain your innocence, because that shows a lack of remorse. But what about people like Donald Marshall and the many others who have been found guilty of crimes mistakenly only later to be exonerated, because they continued to fight for the truth? I'm not saying that Black is innocent, but your approach kind of falls down in cases like that...

 

The other thing about plea-bargains is they only work if you've got something/someone to offer the prosecution. Radler got his vastly reduced charges and sentence in a plea-bargain because he was willing to testify against Black. Who was Black going to offer up, Barbara? :)

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>If there is any lesson to be learned here, it is that once

>you are caught with your fingers in the cookie jar, you need

>to come to terms with your crime and not deny, deny, deny

>until the sentencing occurs.

 

In other words, if the government thinks you're guilty, you'd better plead guilty, because you'll get a lighter sentence. And if you're convicted, you'd better not appeal or maintain your innocence, because that shows a lack of remorse. But what about people like Donald Marshall and the many others who have been found guilty of crimes mistakenly only later to be exonerated, because they continued to fight for the truth? I'm not saying that Black is innocent, but your approach kind of falls down in cases like that...

 

The other thing about plea-bargains is they only work if you've got something/someone to offer the prosecution. Radler got his vastly reduced charges and sentence in a plea-bargain because he was willing to testify against Black. Who was Black going to offer up, Barbara? :)

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I was just trying to make the point that if you know you have done something wrong, then the sooner you come to terms with that, the better. Martha Stewart was in a similar situation. Instead of fessing up early, when she would have been let off with a fine, she let herself be persuaded by her lawyers that she should fight the charges. Her lawyers were still urging her to appeal when she threw the towel in and served her sentence.

 

People connected with the Black case say that if he had acknowledged his improprieties early on, he could have gotten off with making some sort of restitution. As it is, he is making restitution and doing hard time.

 

The Donald Marshall cases are different. They never committed a crime and knew they were innocent.

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I was just trying to make the point that if you know you have done something wrong, then the sooner you come to terms with that, the better. Martha Stewart was in a similar situation. Instead of fessing up early, when she would have been let off with a fine, she let herself be persuaded by her lawyers that she should fight the charges. Her lawyers were still urging her to appeal when she threw the towel in and served her sentence.

 

People connected with the Black case say that if he had acknowledged his improprieties early on, he could have gotten off with making some sort of restitution. As it is, he is making restitution and doing hard time.

 

The Donald Marshall cases are different. They never committed a crime and knew they were innocent.

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Guest zipperzone

>The surrender date (i.e. the date he must give himself up to

>the authorities to be imprisoned) is March 3, 2008, so it

>doesn't appear that he will be allowed to stay out

>indefinitely on bail until his appeal is heard.

>

>One of the things that struck me is how long this case took to

>conduct once it went to trial. The trial itself was months

>long and then the delay between the verdict and sentencing,

>more months, is almost inconceivable in a Canadian court...

 

I dodn't understand why it takes so long between the verdict & sentencing in cases like these. Presumably to give the lawyers enough time to drum up reasons why the sentence should be lienient.

 

But what I ABSOLUTLY DO NO UNDERSTAND is why there is almost three months between the date of the sentencing and the date he must give himself up for incarceration. Perhaps somene could explain that to me?

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Guest zipperzone

>The surrender date (i.e. the date he must give himself up to

>the authorities to be imprisoned) is March 3, 2008, so it

>doesn't appear that he will be allowed to stay out

>indefinitely on bail until his appeal is heard.

>

>One of the things that struck me is how long this case took to

>conduct once it went to trial. The trial itself was months

>long and then the delay between the verdict and sentencing,

>more months, is almost inconceivable in a Canadian court...

 

I dodn't understand why it takes so long between the verdict & sentencing in cases like these. Presumably to give the lawyers enough time to drum up reasons why the sentence should be lienient.

 

But what I ABSOLUTLY DO NO UNDERSTAND is why there is almost three months between the date of the sentencing and the date he must give himself up for incarceration. Perhaps somene could explain that to me?

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