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Conrad Black Denied Bid to Void Guilty Verdict in Fraud Case (Report)

Conrad Black claimed his conviction was unjust because he was unable to hire the lawyers he wanted

Conrad Black, the former Hollinger International chairman convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice  in 2007, has been denied a request to void that guilty verdict after he claimed his trial was unfair because government action prevented him from hiring the defense lawyers he wanted, Bloomberg reported.

Black said that when federal agents seized about $9 million in proceeds from the sale of a Manhattan apartment, they left him without enough cash to hire Brendan V. Sullivan and Gregory Craig, then both of the Washington, D.C.-based Williams & Connolly LLP, Bloomberg said.

Both lawyers have high-profile connections in the capital — Craig worked as a White House counsel to President Obama, Sullivan defended U.S. Marine Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal.

But on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve rejected Black's claim and faulted him for not pushing the issue earlier.

“I never thought there was much chance that Judge St. Eve would rule in our favor,” Black said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg. “The entire prosecution was a fraud and a disgrace and any serious examination of it reveals that.”

Black served as the chairman and CEO of Hollinger — at the time the world's third-largest publisher of English language newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times, the British Daily Telegraph and Canada's National Post — from October 1995 to November 2003.

He and four other executives were accused of stealing $6.1 million from the Chicago-based company, and Black was convicted on three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstructing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe.

He successfully appealed two fraud convictions, knocking three years off his six-and-a-half year sentence. He was released from prison last year and now lives in Toronto.