Media circus comes to town

Former media mogul Conrad Black departs the federal courthouse in Chicago on December 1, 2005 after pleading not guilty to eight counts of fraud related to the theft of $84 million.

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The circus is coming to Chicago today. Media Mogul Conrad Black goes on trial for fraud there this morning. As Chicago Public Radio's Gabriel Spitzer reports, the trial may play as a corporate scandal here, but it's also top-shelf celebrity gossip abroad.


GABRIEL SPITZER: Black cuts a larger-than-life figure in his native Canada and his adopted homeland of England. He's known for expensive tastes and lavish parties.

That's partially what got him in trouble. Prosecutors say Black paid for some of those luxuries with money siphoned from the public company he ran.

Along with four other executives, Black is accused of looting Hollinger International to the tune of about $84 million. The company owned The Chicago Sun-Times, the London Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post, among others.

Black maintains that he's completely innocent and has made no secret that he plans to sue many of his accusers. He says he's looking forward to court.

CONRAD BLACK: It's better than two years of just being defamed, attacked, having your property seized with no due process, no notice. This will be justice.

Potential witnesses include Henry Kissinger, who sat on Hollinger's board of directors.

If convicted, Black could face up to 101 years in prison and $7 million in fines.

In Chicago, I'm Gabriel Spitzer for Marketplace.

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