Conrad Black returns to prison to finish sentence
Published Tuesday, September 6, 2011 10:59PM EDT
Conrad Black has returned to prison to serve out the remaining 13-months of his sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice after being free on bail for the past year.
Black will serve out his final 13 months at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Miami, a low security prison about 50 kilometres from the city's downtown.
The return to jail was ordered by Judge Amy St. Eve, who ruled in a hearing earlier this summer that Black had not finished his sentence.
But Black, who had been living in a five-star hotel in New York City, believes he will be released from prison in as little as six to eight months.
"I think that he's putting the bravest face on it that he possibly can," George Tombs, author of Robber Baron: Lord Black of Crossharbour, told CTV's Canada AM.
"To be going back to prison at the age of 67 for a 13-month stretch, especially in a federal penitentiary in the United States, is obviously very difficult."
Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, had been held at FCI Miami before being released last year.
Prisoners often work in the facility and common roles include cooking, working as medical orderlies, tutoring and doing legal work.
Lord Black of Crossharbour was convicted for obstruction of justice and three counts of fraud in a trial that ended in 2007. He was released last summer on US$2-million bail after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the "honest services" law used in his trial put his convictions into question.
However, St. Eve ruled in June that Black still has to serve 42 months less the 29 months he had already served, for a total of 13 months.
Black's wife Barbara Amiel, 70, who suffers from an autoimmune condition, collapsed in court when St. Eve handed down the decision.
Tombs said another stretch in prison will be difficult for the couple who will likely be permitted only one visit per week.
It isn't clear what will happen once Black's sentence is complete. He is no longer a Canadian citizen after former prime minister Jean Chretien enforced an archaic law that said no Canadian citizen could become a British lord while also retaining their Canadian citizenship.
Black chose to give up his Canadian citizenship as a result of the high-profile battle. However, he recently told CTV's Lisa LaFlamme that he hopes to return to Canada once his sentence is complete.
Tombs said Black faces two years probation in the U.S. following his release from jail. But since he isn't a citizen there either -- but rather is considered a non-resident alien scheduled for eventual deportation -- it isn't clear whether he'll be required to remain in the U.S. for his probation, or be allowed to serve it elsewhere.
While Black's reputation has no doubt suffered during his legal battles, former securities lawyer Jacob Frenkel predicted that Black would make a public comeback.
"He's not going to vanish off the public stage," Frenkel told The Canadian Press.
"Our western society tends to applaud those who have been broken and rebound."
Frenkel pointed to the example of Martha Stewart, who has overcome an insider trading conviction, jail time and public scorn.
Still, Frenkel said that Black's criminal record will stick with him, unless he gets a presidential pardon.
"He cannot rewrite the history of what occurred in the courts," Frenkel said.
Black still maintains his British citizenship and can return to the U.K. once his sentence is complete, if he chooses to do so.
In Black's interview with CTV last week, he also spoke about his new book, "A Matter of Principle," and reflected on his controversial decision to give up his citizenship.
In fact, Black suggested that ditching his citizenship may have been a misstep.
"If I'd known the extent of the ill will it stirred up in Canada, I supposed it might have been."
At one time Black's media empire included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, the National Post and papers across the U.S. and Canada.