Friday, July 13, 2007

Court Action: Black, Bank of America

So Conrad Black isn't a racketeer after all. He's merely an obstructing fraud.
That's the verdict of a federal court jury today. It comes 11 days following 14 weeks of testimony at his racketeering and fraud trial, where the government prosecution threw everything it had against Black.
A first impression: Even though he lost, Black could still be a winner.
Yes, being nailed on mail fraud and obstruction of justice is no picnic. But it could have been much worse if the jury found him guilty of wire fraud, racketeering and a bunch of other counts.
Considering how long it took the jury to hand down this verdict, it's dismissing the majority of charges, and the complexity of the case, who's to say that Black doesn't have a decent shot of winning on appeal?
Let's say the verdict is upheld. The maximum amount of jail time for all counts is about 30 years, but Black's not going to get anywhere near that amount of slammer time. One legal expert says three to seven is more likely.
Others connected to Black have already started to pay.
Black's former crony David Radler, who cut a deal with prosecutors, will likely see some jail time. And former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson, who was on Hollinger's board and headed the audit committee, has his sterling reputation soiled by this case.
And Conrad Black? He gets to continue living the high life, pending an appeal.

Meanwhile, a Dutch court clears up the controversy of who will own LaSalle National Bank.As expected in these quarters, Bank of America is the winner. Click here for an earlier post discussing why BofA would prevail.