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Prosecutor disturbed by Black's defiance

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

The Chicago prosecutor who led the case against Conrad Black says he is disturbed by Lord Black's refusal to accept responsibility for his crimes.

"If he can't accept and learn from the fact that he did something wrong and he stole money, if he can't accept that, then there's a real fear that he will go out and he will do it again," said assistant United States attorney Eric Sussman, who headed the four-person prosecution team.

"I remain troubled by his disdain for the system and the lack of respect that he shows for the system in his lack of remorse."

On Monday, Lord Black was sentenced to 6½ years in jail for fraud and obstruction of justice. He plans to appeal and has insisted repeatedly that he did nothing wrong.

Mr. Sussman was in Toronto to speak at the International Fraud Investigators Conference, which was closed to media. He said he took investigators through the Black case, offering tips on everything from how to analyze financial statements to the role of the media.

One issue in the Black trial was the difficulty U.S. prosecutors had getting documents from Canada. Mr. Sussman said Canadian officials were extraordinarily co-operative, but they told him they felt hamstrung by their legal system.

"We wanted to put as much evidence as we possibly could in front of the jury and, as it turned out, there were certain pieces of evidence [from Canada] that we just weren't able to have access to put on, and so I think that's difficult," he said. The difficulties are "something that Canadian law enforcement and the Canadian public are going to have to address themselves."

As for the trial, Mr. Sussman said his team made mistakes but the overall strategy was sound. "I wouldn't change anything about how we presented that case."

Although prosecutors did not get the 20-year sentence they were seeking, Mr. Sussman said the case was a success. "Conrad Black is going to jail for 6½ years. We went to trial saying he stole money from public companies and put it in his pocket and that's what the jury concluded."

His team has not decided whether to appeal Lord Black's sentence, but he said in general prosecutors do not appeal.

Mr. Sussman said he had never heard of Lord Black when the criminal investigation began four years ago and that he had no idea the case would cause such media interest.

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