LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – AP report that the fraud trial of falle…

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – AP report that the fraud trial of fallen press lord Conrad Black and other former officials of Hollinger International Inc. moved close to going to a jury Tuesday as the defense concluded a week of closing arguments and the lead prosecutor pressed a last time for guilty verdicts.

U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve prepared to give instructions to the jury, setting the stage for deliberations to begin Wednesday after a 31/2-month trial featuring some 40 witnesses and thousands of documents.

Wrapping up an estimated 25 hours of closing arguments by defense lawyers, the attorney for ex-Hollinger corporate counsel Mark Kipnis portrayed his client as an innocent outsider who made a “bad mistake” in neglecting to seek approval from Hollinger’s audit committee for $9.5 million in controversial management fees from newspaper sales that are at the heart of the case.

Kipnis did nothing illegal and did not help create a paper trail to cover up the payments as the government alleges, Ronald S. Safer said.

“Not his finest moment, but certainly not a crime,” he told the jury.

The government, Safer said, has failed to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt that he was part of any scheme, that he intended to cheat anyone.”

Black and two other former Hollinger executives, John Boultbee and Peter Atkinson, are accused of swindling the media company out of more than $60 million through the sale of community newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Kipnis is accused of helping to arrange the transactions. All have pleaded not guilty.

Lead prosecutor Eric Sussman said as he began his rebuttal to the defense that he would not apologize for calling David Radler as a witness even though he is “a criminal” and a liar.

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