CHICAGO Conrad Black, the brash media mogul who vacationed in Bora Bora, rode around London in a Rolls Royce and ended up convicted of swindling shareholders out of millions of dollars, is headed for prison where inmates are paid 12 cents an hour for such jobs as washing windows and floors.
Strong willed, possessed of a powerful ego and given to dizzying flights of rhetoric, the 63-year-old British baron known as Lord Black of Crossharbour is expected to be sentenced Monday. Federal prosecutors say the sentence could be as much as 24 to 30 years, though a recent court filing suggested he could get a more lenient term.
Any stay in the pen will be an inglorious next step for a man who famously brushed aside questions about his expenses as boss of the Hollinger International Inc. newspaper holding company.
"I will not re-enact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility," Black said when asked about his use of the corporate jet for a vacation on the South Pacific island of Bora Bora. When grumbling about money went on, the CEO chortled that his company had become awash in "an epidemic of shareholder idiocy."
Under Black, Hollinger was a media colossus who once owned The Daily Telegraph in London, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, plus hundreds of community newspapers across the United States and Canada.
The Canadian-born Black, two other Canadian executives and a Chicago lawyer were convicted July 13 of siphoning off $6 million through a sell-off of Hollinger-owned papers and related deals. They were acquitted of nine charges that the government says would have brought the total loss to $32 million.
Black was also found guilty of trundling a dozen boxes of documents out of his Toronto offices to keep them from investigators. Black's attorneys have already asked for a new trial, saying it would be "a miscarriage of justice" to let the verdict stand.