Despite the guilty verdicts reached last week in the trial of media tycoon Conrad Black, there’s still plenty of litigation to come for attorneys involved in cases related to alleged fraud at the former newspaper company Hollinger International.
Hollinger, which has been renamed Sun-Times Media Group Inc., and former directors and executives of the company, still face a civil lawsuit brought by shareholders in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. Teacher’s Retirement System of Louisiana v. Black, No. 04-834 (N.D. Ill.).
The former directors include Winston & Strawn attorney James Thompson, who was a four-term governor of Illinois.
The shareholders case could be settled “within a month,” said Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton attorney Gordon Nash, the lawyer for Thompson.
Black and his Canadian parent company, Hollinger Inc., also still face lawsuits by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC v. Black, No. 04-7377 (N.D. Ill.), and by Sun-Times Media, Hollinger International v. Hollinger Inc., No. 04-698.
In addition, the four defendants in the criminal case may seek to overturn their convictions. The Hollinger executives were found guilty on three counts each of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice in the case of Black.
Now they can’t deny those allegations in civil lawsuits, effectively proving plaintiffs’ cases on those points, said David Yellen, dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a criminal defense attorney.
“The verdict itself will come into play in many situations,” said Michael Ramsey, the Houston attorney and solo practitioner who represented the late Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of criminal fraud in his former capacity as chairman of Enron Corp.
The federal government said that Black and former Hollinger executives Mark Kipnis, Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee cheated Hollinger shareholders out of $60 million by funneling payments to themselves through noncompete agreements when the company sold newspaper assets.