The downfall of Citizen Black

While I was busying myself being lazy, Conrad Black was indeed convicted, on four counts of fraud. Not on racketeering, unfortunately – seriously, if I was to go to gaol for fraud, at least send me in as a gangster. He still faces, in this story, up to 20 years. In the article(s) I saw yesterday, he was facing up to 20 to 30 years, so. The lack of the racketeering conviction, an anomaly of being tried in the US anyway, may not make a difference to him being in gaol for the remainder of his life.

The Guardian today is suggesting that prosecutors are asking for 15 to 20 years, but that he may get as few as 5. They are running quite a good show on the aftermath. This blog-post heading is theirs, and I suspect the Citizen Kane reference is, given the life and crimes of Lord Black, deliberate.

Good for Patrick Fitzgerald, anyway. At least it might take his mind of the circus-like Libby Pardon, etc. saga in Washington.

The sentencing will be the interesting part. That he embezzled piles of money from Hollinger International was a given, as far as I could tell. My previous posts about this have compared his crimes to the likes of Jeffrey Skilling at Enron, as well as mafia bosses specifically, and how differences in the crime, the motive and the victims could nevertheless land them with similar sentences.

The big question was, is the crime (i.e. the impact on victims) to be punished, or the intent? The explanation of his sentence will reveal the Judges’ views on that question. In the end, though, Black has been convicted of neither tax evasion nor racketeering – the big-penalty charges – and of embezzling only USD6.5m, rather than the USD60m claimed in the suit. Meaning Lord Black is to be punished for far fewer crimes than the rest of us probably think he committed (and isn’t that always the way?).

Sadly, sentencing is not until late November. The way we are these days, we’ll forget who Conrad Black even is by then.

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