Thursday, May 31, 2007
Prosecutors rested the government's case-in-chief against former Hollinger International CEO Lord Conrad Black and three other former executives of the newspaper publisher now known as the Sun-Times Group. In finishing its case, the government dropped the money laundering charge against Lord Black, although he still faces conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and RICO counts. The money laundering count (indictment here) alleged a violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1957 for transferring $2,150,000 related to one of the non-compete transactions. I suspect prosecutors determined the count could not be established based on the evidence at trial, and so to avoid the distraction of having the jury instructed on a losing charge it simply dismissed it. The effect is likely to be minimal on the overall case.
The government ended its presentation with an IRS agent who discussed Hollinger's tax returns in 1999 and 2000 -- not exactly closing the case with a bang, to be sure. After the obligatory Rule 29 acquittal motion, which the judge will deny in all likelihood, the defendants will begin their case. The question now becomes whether any of them testify, including the volatile Lord Black (see earlier post here). If the defendants think the government's case is weak, then they may well opt for a minimal showing and rest their case quickly in the hopes that the jury will acquit with equal alacrity. The message essentially is that they see no need to waste the jury's time any longer. If Lord Black does testify, it certainly promises to be good theater. An Reuters story (here) discusses the end of the government's case. (ph)