CHICAGO - David Radler's sentencing judge should consider the "significant restitution'' made to Sun-Times Media Group Inc., which has had to pay more than US$100-million in legal fees for the defence of Conrad Black and other former executives, when making her decision, his lawyers said.

Radler, Black's former right-hand man and the star witness against the former press baron during his recent fraud trial, will be sentenced for his role in defrauding shareholders on Dec. 17.

His lawyers argue in a filing this week that Radler's plea bargain with the prosecution, as well as his efforts to repay some of the funds "well before he was legally obligated to do so,'' should be taken into consideration when determining the time of his sentence. Under his plea agreement, he is expected to serve 29 months.

"The magnitude of Mr. Radler's $53 million repayments to Hollinger International is striking when compared to the $102 million in fees and costs that International has advanced to indemnified parties in connection with numerous civil and criminal proceedings, including the substantial fees advanced to Mr. Radler's co-defendants in this criminal case,'' the filing said.

The filing also gives a hint at where Black's legal fees may be at: Sun-Times has been obliged to pay 75 per cent of the legal bills in the criminal case, and has been covering 50 per cent of the legal bills incurred by Black and several others in various civil actions stemming from the fraud.

The company had said in August that its second quarter results included $25.1 million in "indemnification, investigation and litigation costs primarily related to the trial of certain former Sun-Times Media Group executives.''

Black and three other executives were found guilty of fraud by a Chicago jury in July. Black was also convicted of obstruction of justice. All four men plan to appeal the convictions, and are being sentenced Dec. 10.