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Conrad Black: The "Honest Services" odyssey

The fallout from Conrad Black's conviction under the Honest Services statute continues.

(Photo: Canadian Press)

Former newspaper magnate Conrad Black has a straight walk back to the courtroom ahead of him, after the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected an appeal challenging his two remaining convictions on fraud and obstruction of justice.

Black had a total of four convictions, three of which fell under the U.S. mail fraud statute, and particularly the “Honest Services” legal concept, until two of them were overturned by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last October.

Black was convicted under the Honest Services statute, but it was always a controversial one, and in June of last year, the Supreme Court decided to review appeals against the statute by Black, jailed former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, and others.

As Canadian Business Reporter Matthew McClearn reported last year, Honest Services “holds that fraud needn’t necessarily involve the theft of money, but can be expanded to include situations where the accused has somehow deprived someone of an intangible right.”

As a result, “the statute was applied so broadly that it became known as the prosecutor’s ‘Colt. 45’,” and among others, Black was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail concurrently for each conviction.

But after hearing appeals against the statute, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that a conviction of Honest Services fraud required proof that the defendant received a bribe or kickback.

Black’s case was sent back to the lower court of appeals for review in light of the Supreme Court’s new ruling.

When the lower court determined that Black “could not lawfully be convicted of honest-services fraud” lacking proof of bribery, two of his fraud convictions were overturned.

Black is due for resentencing on his two remaining convictions before U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve in Chicago on June 24.