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Miguel Estrada

Miguel Estrada

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US Supreme Court to hear appeal of jailed media mogul Conrad Black news19 May 2009The US Supreme Court agreed to review the conviction of former Hollinger Inc chairman Conrad Black, who is serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence for mail fraud and obstruction of justice.The high court accepted Black's appeal without comment and will hear oral arguments in the case next fall.

Black asked the Supreme Court to throw out his 2007 conviction for fraudulently skimming millions of dollars from the company.

Black, 64, built Hollinger into what once was the world's third-largest newspaper company.

At one time it operated more than 300 newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in London, the Jerusalem Post in Israel, the Chicago Sun-Times and Canada's National Post.

However, he was convicted in 2007 of stealing $6.1 million from the company, and a US appeals court upheld the conviction.Black and two other former Hollinger executives argued before the Supreme Court that jury instructions during their trial were seriously flawed, and that the appeals court improperly expanded the scope of the federal mail fraud law, allowing a conviction even though the company wasn't at risk of losing money.

Black is serving his sentence at a federal jail in Florida.

He was convicted on three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice, though he was acquitted on nine other counts.The company is now much smaller and operates under the name Sun-Times Media Group Inc.

Today's decision to hear the case may delay its efforts to recoup as much as $100 million it spent to defend its former executives.

The Supreme Court review may also affect the company's civil suit against Black.

The justices will consider the Black case during their 2009-2010 term, which starts in October.

Black's lawyers will talk to their client about the possibility of seeking his release from prison while the Supreme Court considers the case, said Miguel Estrada, the former executive's lead lawyer at the high court.

''We're absolutely elated that the court has taken a close look at this case,'' Estrada said.

''We've always maintained that what he was convicted of is simply not a crime.''
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