Conrad Black, former owner of the Sun-Times, reported to a federal prison in Florida Monday to begin a six-and-a-half-year sentence for fraud and obstructing justice. His own man to the end, Black posted a statement Monday in Canada’s National Post, a paper he founded, insisting on his innocence and declaring that he has “endured the most comprehensive international defamation I can recall in over four decades of close acquaintance with the media.” Black noted that since “dissident shareholders” drove him away from Hollinger International, “our successors have made every conceivable business blunder and have eliminated $1.85-billion of shareholder value.”
Black reported to Coleman Federal Correction Complex just before noon. In a separate story in the same edition, the Post said Black faces “a bleak and rigid daily prison life that is gruelling in its repetitiveness and fraught with risk.” Because Black had renounced his Canadian citizenship in order to be named to Britain’s House of Lords, he apparently made himself ineligible for transfer to a presumably gentler Canadian prison and that country’s more lenient parole terms. And Canada’s Globe and Mail observes that probably because he’s British, a foreigner, Black was denied the prison camp in Miami he’d requested.
But Black’s not one for expressing regrets. Yet another National Post story has Black saying of his new home away from home, “I expect it to be somewhat boring,” and allowing, “I’d rather do something bookish than physical labour. I wouldn’t be the best guy they could have out mowing the lawn but I could do not badly teaching French or something like that.”
Black’s downfall remains a huge story in Canada, and Chicago freelance writer Susan Berger was interviewed at length Monday by CBC TV. Berger covered Black’s trial in Chicago from gavel to gavel last year and maintained a popular blog she continues to update. In January she passed a chatty evening with Black in Palm Beach.
And as for Black’s partner in crime, David Radler, who turned state’s evidence and got off easy, he’s begun serving his time too.