Former media tycoon Conrad Black yesterday had two fraud convictions dismissed by a court but it upheld the guilty verdicts on one fraud and one obstruction of justice charge.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals said a recent US Supreme Court ruling curtailing so-called “honest services” laws meant the two fraud convictions had to be quashed.
The government had conceded the two convictions rested partly on the idea that Black deprived his former company of his faithful services as a corporate officer.
Black once controlled a media empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph and community papers in the US and Canada.
After serving two years of a six-and-a-half-year sentence he was recently freed from a Florida federal prison pending the appeal. But the ruling was only a partial victory for Black because the three-judge panel upheld the two other convictions for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Its 15-page opinion said those convictions were not linked to honest services laws and could stand.
It is unclear what will happen next to the 66-year-old who once controlled a media empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and community papers in the US and Canada.
Prosecutors could retry Black on the two overturned fraud convictions — though Judge Richard Posner, writing today's opinion, seemed to discourage that.
“The government may wish instead to conserve its resources and wind up this protracted litigation,” he wrote.
US District Judge Amy St Eve, who oversaw the trial, will have to resentence Black considering only the convictions that were upheld.
One option for her is to allow Black to stay out of prison based on time already served.