CHICAGO David Radler was called a serial liar, a turncoat, a snitch and a rat when he testified against his long-time business partner Conrad Black and three other former Hollinger International Inc. colleagues last May.
But yesterday, in a court filing, Mr. Radler's lawyers said that was all wrong. They portrayed Mr. Radler as an honest, hard-working man of integrity and they implored a Chicago judge to endorse a plea bargain he struck in 2005.
"During the trial, the court heard attacks on Mr. Radler and his character," the lawyers said. "But despite the picture that his co-defendants' counsel attempted to paint of Mr. Radler, there is another side of him that was not highlighted during the trial."
The filing portrayed Mr. Radler, 65, as a deeply religious father who has suffered enough and given enormously to his community.
"Mr. Radler is a kind, decent and generous man," the filing said.
Mr. Radler, who lives in Vancouver, built the Hollinger newspaper empire with Lord Black over more than three decades. At one point the Chicago-based company was one of the largest newspaper operations in the world, stretching across Canada, the United States, Britain and Israel. But when prosecutors in Chicago began investigating allegations of fraud in 2004, Mr. Radler quickly cut a deal.
He pleaded guilty to one fraud charge and agreed to testify against the others. In return, prosecutors said they would recommend he receive a 29-month jail sentence and a $250,000 fine. Judge Amy St. Eve will rule on that deal next Monday. If she turns it down, Mr. Radler will likely go to trial. Prosecutors have indicated in court filings that they continue to support the agreement.
Mr. Radler was the prosecution's star witness during the trial. He testified for eight days and faced blistering cross-examinations by lawyers for Lord Black and the other defendants. They wore down his credibility so much that by the end of the trial lead prosecutor Eric Sussman told jurors they did not have to consider Mr. Radler's testimony during their deliberations.
Even Judge St. Eve noted Mr. Radler's culpability on Monday when she sentenced Lord Black to 6½ years in prison. The judge rejected arguments by prosecutors that Lord Black should serve more than 20 years in prison saying that would be unfair considering that Mr. Radler, who was "at least as culpable," would receive much less.
In yesterday's filing, lawyers for Mr. Radler urged the judge to endorse the plea bargain, citing Mr. Radler's outstanding character, his extensive co-operation with prosecutors and his heartfelt remorse for his misconduct.
To back up their case, they offered testimonials from Mr. Radler's wife, daughters and several friends. They enthused about Mr. Radler's religious devotion - he is a "fixture at synagogue" - and his extensive charitable work, including gifts to hospitals, universities, and his tireless effort to save Vancouver's NBA franchise (the team moved to Memphis in 2001).
The filing mentioned a $1-million gift Mr. Radler made to Queen's University in 2000, but failed to note that the university gave back the donation and took Mr. Radler's name off a wing of its business school after he pleaded guilty.
The filing noted that Mr. Radler has paid $53-million to settle several lawsuits, including allegations filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. And they said that because he is a Canadian, Mr. Radler will be deported from the United States once his term is up and will never be able to see his 92-year-old mother again, because she lives in a nursing home there. *****
Family and friends sing a chorus of praise
Conrad Black had his chance to convince the judge he's more than a corporate kleptocrat. Now it's David Radler's turn to show the judge he's not just an admitted fraudster. He's also a devoted family man, a deeply religious individual, a kind employer, a great boss, a giving philanthropist, and he's very, very sorry, according to accounts given in his presentencing submission.
The family man
He 'is a man of his word and when he makes a commitment to his loved ones, he keeps it.'
He 'never missed ballet recitals or piano recital' and 'never missed Sunday night family dinner.'
'He has provided me with my entire emotional support' and '[h]is love and understanding cannot be compared.'
I can 'hear the pain in [Mr. Radler's] voice as he describe[s] the anguish' of being unable to care for his infirm mother.
-Friend Daniel Nack
The MAN OF FAITH
'David is a fixture at synagogue on Saturdays, holidays and sometimes nights. ... It is surely difficult for David, who is shy by nature, to sit in synagogue each week when the entire community knows about and talks about his legal affairs.'
-Rabbi Yitzchak Wineberg
The good boss
'I saw David go out of his way to look after employees and families who had family members that had illnesses and when one of them passed away ... David offered to pay funeral expenses when someone couldn't afford it.'
-Former colleague Bob Calvert
'One fact that you may hear from others is that Mr. Radler has in the past provided women with business and job opportunities in the newspaper business that they would otherwise not have had because of the traditional male dominance in the industry.' -Former colleague Catherine Keri
'Every account was important to him and he understood their business, talked their lingo. ... He proved to them and to me to be a man of his word and I was proud to work for him.'
-Former employee Nanci Batson
'[N]ot one time did David Radler ever ask me to be less than totally honest and truthful with the people with whom I was negotiating.'
-Former employee Kenneth Cope
'In Judaism we learn that there are three parts to repentance; confession, regret and resolution to change. I believe you have witnessed the first part - confession. I have heard and felt the second part - regret. The third part - resolution to change - can be plainly seen in David's life over the past year.'
-Friend Daniel Nack
He 'agonizes over the effects of his actions on his family.'
Source: Defendent Radler's Position Paper as to Sentencing Factors