U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said today in a statement that it had “effected the return of Mr. Conrad Black to Canada in accordance with the final order of removal.”
Black, 67, was found guilty by a federal jury in Chicago after a four-month trial in 2007. His initial 6 1/2-year prison sentence was reduced by three years after Black successfully appealed two of three fraud convictions.
During the Canadian-born executive’s reign as chairman and chief executive officer from October 1995 to November 2003, Hollinger International was the world’s third-biggest publisher of English-language newspapers, including the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, Canada’s National Post and the Jerusalem Post. The Chicago-based company is now known as Sun-Times Media Group Inc.
In 2001, Black renounced his Canadian citizenship when he accepted a life peerage in the U.K.’s House of Lords, where he holds the title Lord Black of Crossharbour.
Canadian news channels CTV and CP24 today showed live images of Black and his wife, journalist Barbara Amiel, playing with two dogs in the garden of their home in the Bridle Path neighborhood of North Toronto. He didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment on his release.
Black returned on a temporary resident permit, said Alexis Pavlich, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The permit is typically a one-year visa that precedes an application for permanent residency and citizenship.
While in federal prison, first in Coleman, Florida, and later in Miami, Black tutored fellow inmates, wrote columns for the National Post and completed a book about his experience with the U.S. criminal-justice system, “A Matter of Principle,” which was published last year.
The jury that convicted Black had found that he and three other Hollinger executives collaborated to steal $6.1 million from the company. Black was also found guilty of removing from his Toronto office cartons of records sought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Appellate rulings whittled the amount stolen from the company to only $600,000 while allowing the obstruction count to stand. Prosecutors declined to retry him or his co-defendants.
Black, who began his prison term in March 2008, was freed in July 2010 while his appeals were pending and returned to prison in September.
“I have always tried to take success like a gentleman and disappointment like a man,” Black told U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve before she imposed the second, reduced sentence.
“I accept that a reasonable person could conclude that I am guilty,” he said, adding he also believed the same reasonable person could conclude he had been “adequately punished.”
The case was U.S. v. Black, 05-cr-00727, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).