Former media baron Conrad Black has returned to prison to finish his sentence for fraud after a releasing of a new memoir and taking part in a flourish of interviews, including a profile in Vanity Fair magazine in which he once again asserted his innocence.
Those who have followed the trials and tribulations of the Montreal-born businessman now in the home stretch of his time in prison say he is on his way back to regaining the form he showed before becoming a convict.
“At this point, I think he’s gearing up for Part 2, which is going to be his release from prison, and then I expect him to be the old Conrad again,” said Chicago lawyer Andrew Stoltmann, who has long followed Mr. Black’s case.
“I think you’re going to see a combative Conrad Black and he’s going to do what Conrad has always done, which is make headlines and do it his way.”
Mr. Black had been free on bail for about a year after an appeal court reversed two of his three fraud convictions.
He was resentenced in June by Judge Amy St. Eve, who also handed down his original term of 78 months in 2007. With credits for time already served, Mr. Black was ordered earlier this summer to spend up to another 13 months behind bars.
Jacob Frenkel, a former SEC enforcement lawyer and watcher of the Black case, said if Martha Stewart can make a comeback, so can Mr. Black.
“He’s not going to vanish off the public stage,” Mr. Frenkel said.
“Our Western society tends to applaud those who have been broken and rebound.”
Ms. Stewart recently returned to the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. after her five-year ban from serving on the board or as an executive of a public company, which was part of a settlement over insider trading charges. Ms. Stewart neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the deal.
But Mr. Frenkel noted that nothing short of a presidential pardon is going to erase the conviction for Mr. Black.
“He cannot rewrite the history of what occurred in the courts,” Mr. Frenkel said.
Mr. Black will spend the remainder of his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, a low security prison about 50 kilometres from the city’s downtown, next to the Miami zoo.
He spent his first stint behind bars at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Mr. Black spoke of his first stint in prison during which he hosed down shower stalls and said he earned the respect of “Mafia people.”
“I quickly developed alliances with the Mafia people, then the Cubans,” Mr. Black said in the interview for the magazine’s October edition.
“I was friendly with the good ol’ boys and the African-Americans. They all understood I had fought the system and I do believe I earned their respect for that.”
In an apparent reference to what’s left of his wealth, Mr. Black told the magazine “I can live on $80-million.”
Mr. Black’s empire once included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and small papers across the U.S. and Canada.