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Conrad Black sentencing set for June 24

Former Sun-Times owner Conrad Black leaves  Dirksen  Federal building  after status hearing In Chicago January 13 2011.

Former Sun-Times owner Conrad Black leaves the Dirksen Federal building after a status hearing In Chicago on January 13, 2011. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Onetime media baron Conrad Black is to be resentenced June 24 on a fraud conviction involving his handling of money as owner of the Chicago Sun-Times’ former parent company.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve set the date after prosecutors said in a court hearing Thursday they probably won’t retry Black on two counts overturned by an appellate court last year.

Black had served two years of a 6 1/2-year prison term on the 2007 conviction for defrauding investors in Hollinger International before he was freed on bail in June after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision. That decision involved the federal “honest services” fraud law, which was used to prosecute Black and put his conviction into question.

The wealthy Black, who carried heavy bags under his eyes, remained quiet and seated during the proceeding, often staring toward the floor.

After the hearing, he spoke briefly to reporters who swarmed him.

“We’re all awaiting the Supreme Court,” Black said as he waded through a crush of reporters and camera people Thursday. “I’m surprised there’s as much interest today as there is. Nothing was supposed to happen.”

The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent Black’s case back to St. Eve, the trial judge, after upholding two counts on obstruction of justice and fraud but tossing out his conviction on two other charges, finding that there was “an error warranting — barely — a retrial” on them.

The appeals court had given prosecutors the option to either retry Black on those counts or to drop those and go straight to re-sentencing.

Black attorney Miguel Estrada said Thursday he would challenge the October appeals court ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court. The parties are set to meet on May 9 and if the high court does not take up the case, they will proceed to sentencing in June.

Black is the onetime chief executive of Hollinger International, which formerly owned newspapers including the Sun-Times and London’s Daily Telegraph.

On Thursday, prosecutors did drop the only remaining two charges against codefendant Mark Kipnis, onetime Hollinger corporate counsel.

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