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Black is Guilty
July 13, 2007 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Former media baron Conrad Black has been found guilty of obstruction of justice and three counts of mail fraud.
posted by chunking express (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The CBC has a lot more background on Black and the case.
posted by chunking express at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2007


So, whad'ya figure? The feds are unlikely to appeal, but Black almost certainly will. Plea agreement, 8-figure fine instead of jail time?
posted by solid-one-love at 11:12 AM on July 13, 2007


Dammit, I had him guilty on obstruction but innocent of the rest. Mail fraud; I still find that funny for some reason. After all, car theft isn't robbing a bank using a car...
posted by Bovine Love at 11:14 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obstruction of justice? No doubt Bush will commute his sentence to something fair.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love when rich people go to jail.
posted by four panels at 11:25 AM on July 13, 2007


I might be crazy, but I think I remember reading a small blurb in the New Yorker about some guy stumbling around the Upper East Side - talking to himself, naked except for a trenchcoat. When the police arrived, they discovered it was Kenneth Lay. I hope this guy goes through a similar sort of hell.
posted by phaedon at 11:33 AM on July 13, 2007


phaedon you're either thinking of Jeff Skilling or one of the old mafia guys named Vincent something, not Lay.

Re: Black. I am so, so, sad for him. All that he has gone through. Just kidding. Rot in hell, motherfucker.
posted by vito90 at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2007


Phaedon - Vincent Gigante?

Vincent "The Chin" Gigante (March 29, 1928 – December 19, 2005) was an American Mafioso who headed the Genovese crime family for years, at times while in prison. Sometimes referred to as "the Oddfather," since the mid-1960s, Gigante had been regularly seen wandering the streets of Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, in his bathrobe and slippers, mumbling incoherently to himself. In 2003, as part of a plea bargain, he admitted in court that his insanity had been a long act staged to avoid conviction under an insanity defense. (From wiki)
posted by vito90 at 11:39 AM on July 13, 2007


It's totally Jeff Skilling. Gigante was Greenwich Village.
posted by phaedon at 11:48 AM on July 13, 2007


I don't know who Conrad Black is, but you had me at "media baron".
posted by DU at 11:54 AM on July 13, 2007


What I don't understand is why they can't just use civil asset forfeiture to reduce Black to penury. Oh wait, I forgot robber barons are entitled to different standards of justice.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:56 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on July 13, 2007


Some choice Black quotes.

Here's what Lord Black had to say about the widows he swindled to gain control of the Argus Corporation back in 1978:

"The whole arrangement was requested by the rapacious ladies, vetted by them, explained labouriously to them in monosyllables and with examples adapted to the mind of a child of 10, and they understood and approved every letter and every word of the agreement."

Hey, Connie, this one's for you:
*
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:59 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


BWAH HA! HA! HA! HA!

Sorry, I've just been anticipating this for a long time. What a pompous gasbag Conrad Black really is.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:01 PM on July 13, 2007


[expletive deleted], he's a fellow with few fans in Canada.
posted by chunking express at 12:03 PM on July 13, 2007


Delicious!
posted by stinkycheese at 12:05 PM on July 13, 2007


he's a fellow with few fans in Canada.

Yet still, his undead mockery of a national paper lurches on.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:10 PM on July 13, 2007


Now if they could only find some way of putting his horrid wife behind bars too, maybe let him take her along for company.
posted by zarah at 12:11 PM on July 13, 2007


The possibility of a jail term is "devastating," say friends and biographers, but the larger-than-life figure who gave up Canadian citizenship to become Lord Black of Crossharbour is likely to be more upset about how the loss will impact his legacy.

"It's not the crime, it's the demolishing of Conrad's life's work," said friend and columnist Mark Steyn.

"It's the knowledge that the first draft of history is going to be written by all your enemies, by all these kinds of jackals from Fleet Street who skipped the last four months but flew in here for the walk to the scaffold."

Steyn, who has known Black for 12 years and covered the trial for Maclean's magazine, said ahead of the verdict that a defeat would be "particularly devastating" to Black's wife Barbara Amiel Black.

Unlike her husband, she has found it difficult to remain optimistic throughout the trial and was subjected to intense media scrutiny for lashing out at reporters early on, calling them "vermin" and dismissing one female journalist as a "slut."

Black biographer George Tombs said Black had found it difficult to even consider the possibly of being found guilty and grew angry when asked during the trial about a possible guilty verdict.

"He gagged and said 'I can't conceive of that. I can't think of that. I have to put all my energy into thinking about victory'," Tombs said.

"He'd psyched himself up to believe that he will prevail."


Ho ho ho. What I wouldn't give to see his face when that verdict was read.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:14 PM on July 13, 2007


Yet another failure for Lord Dickwad of Doucheharbour, who, despite his puffery and wealth, has never succeeded except through treachery, stealth and hollow intimidation, from his days stealing final exams at his boys' boarding school, to the Argus legalised robbery, to the great insolvent lie that was the National Post.

I look forward to his imprisonment as a fitting end to a life dedicated only to deceit, greed and financial violence. It is too bad his final years, served in some relatively cushy federal facility reserved for white criminals, will likely be far more comfortable than his innumerable victims, from the legions of journalists he insulted and fired, the investors he swindled and impoverished, or the poor sods who tried to read one of his eyeglazing books.

He will not be missed nor mourned.
posted by docgonzo at 12:15 PM on July 13, 2007 [7 favorites]


Feds: Tests Show Skilling Drunk During New York Scuffle.
posted by ericb at 12:15 PM on July 13, 2007


Conrad Black on professional managers vs. owner-managers from his 1993 memoirs: "My natural sympathies are with the proprietors, whose own money is at stake. Too often I have seen non-proprietorial managers focus on keeping others at bay, expanding their companies unwisely and steadily improving their own financial condition irrespective of performance. The proprietor-manager implicitly accepts responsibility for his actions, the consequences of his mistakes, the reward for his successes."

Well, I guess he proved that assertion correct.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:22 PM on July 13, 2007


I'm kind of sad to see Black reduced to this. While he is pompous, he is definitely not a windbag, and I've grown to like his speaking style. Black is definitely a social climber, but also an interesting character; my opinion of him changed after he published the Roosevelt biography. He's only guilty of being caught.

Mark Steyn, on the other hand, is too fucking annoying for words.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:54 PM on July 13, 2007


Great quote:

On the late John "Bud" McDougald, whom Black succeeded as head of the Argus empire (ibid.): "Bud's chiseling was also unseemly for someone with such a hefty bank balance. It was unbecoming for him to make his trips to London on contra tickets from CFRB (tickets the radio station obtained in exchange for advertising) and to snitch Massey-Ferguson's Rolls-Royce Phantom V at an artificially low, depreciated value…McDougald's lassitude, greed, and vanity were not constructive influences in the Argus Group."
posted by KokuRyu at 1:01 PM on July 13, 2007


Here's the Post's take on the conviction. If you read it, be careful...it's coated in drool.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:02 PM on July 13, 2007


From the Post link: "Ultimately, the battle was to be between the evidence and the zeitgeist. Conrad had the facts on his side; the prosecutors had the spirit of the times. When the charge is witchcraft, and the venue is 17th-century Salem, whose chances do you fancy?"

Wow. That's just crazy.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:15 PM on July 13, 2007


Card Cheat's linked article is written by George Jonas, who, beyond being a pamphleteer of the first order, was also the first Mr. Babs Amiel, Conrad's current wife.

Oh, and the Tories have just removed the whip from Lord Black of Crossharbour. The rats are scuttling.
posted by docgonzo at 1:29 PM on July 13, 2007


I'd never heard of him but he has the perfict name for a robber baron.
posted by delmoi at 1:36 PM on July 13, 2007


He's blackened the family name.
posted by WPW at 2:52 PM on July 13, 2007


You know if it weren't for the front page stories at the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, all the political blogs, plus the local and network news, NPR, and the radio talk shows, plus your post to MetaFilter, I might have missed this story.
posted by LarryC at 2:56 PM on July 13, 2007


Well thanks LarryC for letting us know what you think. The only thing worse than crappy posts are crappy comments, AMIRITE?
posted by chunking express at 3:03 PM on July 13, 2007


You know, if it weren't for LarryC, I might have not known some of the media sources I don't follow who have been covering this story.
posted by wendell at 3:46 PM on July 13, 2007


Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Seriously, there was one English columnist who opened an article about Black by noting that he knew many people who had crossed paths with Lord and Lady Crossharbour, and that "it is no exageration to say that I have never heard a good word said about them."

It's too bad he wouldn't stick to what he does best: historical biography. But no, ambition and hubris claim another victim. Old story, still fascinating.
posted by jokeefe at 3:57 PM on July 13, 2007


Gee, Conrad Moffat Black thinks his shit tastes like ice cream. Unlike the rest of us plebes who know differently.

Sure sticks in one's craw, including the fact 'the jury' didn't find him guilty of the perq's — the trip to Bora Bora, the wedding on the company dollar...etc.
Well if I was a shareholder I'd be right pissed about the head cheese spending money like that. It's nicking money from my wallet or some granny's retirement fund, plain and simply. Good thing there are plenty shareholders filing charges against him right now. His 'troubles' aren't over.

A disappointing comment I heard on the CBC was some guy said more people will set up their 'corporate' shop in Canada, because our laws are so slack that it's ok for head cheeses to take all they fucking want and screw the shareholders ]really he said the 'law' in Canada would find nothing wrong with his actions or at least be hardly dealt with harshly[. Great. We're a bunch of hicks in Canada it appears. ]not that anything is wrong with that... as they say¿[ Nay.

The contempt shown by Conrad Black is hardly palatable.

This wasn't a witch hunt, the witch I hear is Barbara. Gee, what will they talk about with the Queen now¿ ]did I tell you about the time I dropped my soap in prison¿[

Bloody hell, the nerve of him wanting his Canadian citizenship back too. Fucking hell. Guess all you have to do is ask and everyone just bends over to receive./

Pardon my fucking drool.

Hay, LarryC, have you heard of the global warming¿ Shit dude, we're going to cook and die of thirst./ See it on —— —]fill in the blank[
\
posted by alicesshoe at 5:10 PM on July 13, 2007


Justice will be done only if he dies in prison, which I find highly unlikely.

So he might be guilty of some of the charges against him, but there are other crimes for which he will go unpunished, like doing more damage to the institution of the press than any man since Hearst, with the likely exception of Rupert Murdoch.

Also, he is quite possibly the most outspokenly arrogant motherfucker ever to have lived.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:51 PM on July 13, 2007


Obstruction of justice? Too bad he's not an American, or President Bush could commute his sentence.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:04 PM on July 13, 2007


alicesshoe, what one earth was going on with your linebreaks? They're gfilled with glitches, while the rest of your post is okay.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:58 PM on July 13, 2007


And I was wondering why my blog got so many hits today - it's because I have a post about the Blacks in my archive.

No one that I've met in Canadian publishing or media circles (and given that I work in publishing, that's quite a few people) ever has a good word to say about either Black or Amiel. I do think they have some praiseworthy qualities, and I do have a distaste for the extreme vitriol directed at them, but certainly they don't have enough good qualities to compensate for their attitude that they are entitled to do whatever they want regardless of legality or ethical considerations and it's only fitting that this whole court trial should have happened to them.

I don't respect people who don't "get it", who don't understand their place in the world, who can't weigh the effect of their actions on others. It's my belief that most people feel this way about the Conrad Blacks and Paris Hiltons of the world, and this is why you see the general exultation when society's corrective forces finally catch up with such people.

I'd like to hope that this will ground them, that it will make them understand that they've been wrong to act and think the way they have... but I doubt it. Amiel wrote in Macleans (Canada's version of Time magazine) that the worst thing about this experience is the feeling of being "singled out", that a Holocaust survivor once told her that it was horrible to be rounded up but at least you weren't alone. It's a comparison that literally turns my stomach.
posted by orange swan at 8:54 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lovely; he's lost his Conservative status in the House of Lords, though has been allowed to hold onto his peerage despite having one of the worst attendance records - 19 or so appearances - since fellating his way into the place in 2001. Not even the fucking Tories want him. Shit, Maggie Thatcher won't return his calls anymore.

Despite his preening and Anglophilic pretense, he is and has always been just another grubby hustler from the Colonies, a vulgar little man who thought his bank account made him into something far more than he was. He's known it ever since he set off from Winnipeg with his pockets stuffed with Daddy's cash, Canadians have despised him because of it for decades, and finally, the crew of inbreds and war criminals whose amity he's so pathetically, nakedly aspired to can no longer ignore it.

Happy Friday the 13th, Connie.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:56 PM on July 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm no fan of Conrad Black, and was feeling the glee of seeing a pompous jerk go down until I watched CBC's coverage of his life so far and felt a little sad afterwards.

In his younger days, he was a brilliant mind who shook up the old boy's network of media and spoke, if in convoluted terms, of doing great things. The biggest tragedy of it all, according to biographer Peter Newman, was that all of this was entirely avoidable, and now he's lost what he wanted so badly: respect from British society.

I think he's a pompous jerk, I think he's the deserving author of his own despair, but I can see him as human and an interesting story now, and it feels better than just sitting around chuckling at his misfortune. As for Paris Hilton, well I'll just never recognize its humanity so I can be gleeful about anything that happens to her :)
posted by holycola at 9:20 AM on July 14, 2007


alicesshoe, what one earth was going on with your linebreaks? They're gfilled with glitches, while the rest of your post is okay.

They're intentional. It's a thing alicesshoe does to punctuation for some reason.

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:41 AM on July 14, 2007


Amiel wrote in Macleans that the worst thing about this experience is the feeling of being "singled out", that a Holocaust survivor once told her that it was horrible to be rounded up but at least you weren't alone.

Wow, that's a pretty staggering statement.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:55 AM on July 14, 2007


The feds are unlikely to appeal, but Black almost certainly will.

I agree that it's unlikely that the feds will appeal—there is exactly nothing for them to appeal.

What I don't understand is why they can't just use civil asset forfeiture to reduce Black to penury.

Civil forfeiture is so broken that I can't really support its being used, even against Black, until it's fixed.
posted by oaf at 12:55 PM on July 14, 2007


On a more drooly note, does anyone know exactly which Palm Beach mansion is his? I want to nosey shamelessly on Google Earth, and chuckle.
posted by paperpete at 3:07 PM on July 14, 2007


paperpete: On a more drooly note, does anyone know exactly which Palm Beach mansion is his? I want to nosey shamelessly on Google Earth, and chuckle.

Look for the one with the mountain of burning documents in the back yard.
posted by WPW at 5:55 AM on July 15, 2007


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