Conrad Black is just as guilty of a multimillion dollar theft, and of lying about it, as his one-time business partner who already admitted guilt, prosecutors told jurors in final arguments on Monday at the former media baron’s criminal fraud trial.
“These guys were on the same page. They did it together,” prosecutor Julie Ruder said, referring to Black and long-time partner David Radler, the government’s star witness against him and three co-defendants.
“Conrad Black was just as committed to lying about this scheme as David Radler,” she told the jury of 11 women and four men who may begin deliberations in the case next week.
“Mr. Radler took responsibility for these awful events. They did this together,” she said, trying to drive home a key prosecution strategy putting Black and Radler in lock-step in a scheme the government says defrauded Hollinger International Inc. and its shareholders out of $60 million.
Radler was Black’s partner turned government informer who pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in a deal that will send him to jail. He was the prosecution’s main witness in the trial.
“We are not here because somebody made mistakes. We are not here because somebody didn’t disclose something in a timely fashion,” Ruder said as the trial entered its 14th week.
“We are here because five men — these four defendants and David Radler — systematically stole $60 million. They checked their fiduciary duty at the door,” she said.
“Conrad Black fancied himself a proprietor. No sackcloth and ashes for him,” she said of the flamboyant 62-year-old Canadian-born Black who is now a member of Britain’s House of Lords.
Black and three other former Hollinger executives are accused of pilfering $60 million in so-called non-competition payments that prosecutors contend rightfully belonged to the publishing giant and its shareholders.
The payments compensated Black and the others for agreeing not to compete against the buyers of hundreds of publications that were being sold to pay accumulated debt. Prosecutors contend they were essentially turned into non-taxed bonuses which the defendants awarded to themselves.