The jury in the Conrad Black trial finished its sixth day of deliberations Thursday without reaching a verdict, but even when it does, its job might not be finished if it convicts Black or any of his three former associates of fraud.
The panel of nine men and three women also might decide whether Black gets to keep his beachfront mansion in Palm Beach, Fla.
In addition to seeking jail time, the prosecution wants to seize cash and property that it asserts were obtained in connection with the alleged crimes against Hollinger International Inc., once one of the largest media empires in the world. The company still owns the Chicago Sun-Times and now is called Sun-Times Media Group Inc.
If Black is convicted, for instance, he might have to give up as much as $92 million as a penalty, including the beach house, the sales proceeds from a New York luxury apartment and a 26-carat diamond ring he purchased for his wife for $2.6 million.
Defense lawyers have the option of having a judge decide the forfeiture amount or leaving it in the hands of the jury. They indicated Thursday that they are leaning toward having U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, who is presiding over the trial, determine the final amount, but they have not reached a decision.
Defense lawyers might not announce their choice until after the verdict is read. If Black and co-defendants Peter Atkinson, John Boultbee and Mark Kipnis are found not guilty, the forfeiture issue becomes a moot point.
Black, Hollinger’s former chairman and chief executive, and the three former executives are accused of orchestrating a scheme to steal $60 million between 1998 and 2001, mainly by selling company assets and receiving so-called non-compete payments from the buyers.
Such agreements are usually a standard course of business, as buyers demand promises that the seller won’t set up a competing business in the same territory. But prosecutors allege that the non-competes in this case were bogus, used to award illegal bonuses to executives and other companies controlled by Black.