CHICAGO A federal judge in Chicago has upheld the plea bargain David Radler struck in return for testifying against Conrad Black and three other former executives of Hollinger International Inc.
Judge Amy St. Eve approved the deal during a hearing Monday morning. Under the agreement, Mr. Radler pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and he will go to jail for 29 months. He also has to pay a $250,000 (U.S.) fine. Mr. Radler is expected to apply to be transferred to a jail in Canada near his home in Vancouver. That will be the decision of the Bureau of Prisons and prosecutors have said they will not interfere with his request.
“I will live my life with this and I am sorry for what I have done, “ Mr. Radler told Judge St. Eve. “I am sorry for the suffering to my family and others.”
In addition to his plea deal, Mr. Radler has also paid more than $53-million to settle several civil lawsuits including allegations filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“You took a lot of money from Hollinger International shareholders” Judge St. Eve told him. “You have committed a very serious crime”
She took his co-operation and restitution into account in approving the deal. Mr. Radler's lawyer told the court that he and his companies have paid $61-million in settlements.
Mr. Radler, 65, helped build Hollinger with Lord Black over more than three decades. At its peak the company operated newspapers across Canada, the United States, Britain and Israel. However, when prosecutors began probing allegations of fraud in 2004, Mr. Radler quickly cut a deal. He co-operated with investigators for months before reaching a plea agreement in September, 2005.
He instantly became the prosecution's star witness against Lord Black and the others. During the trial last spring, Mr. Radler testified for eight days, offering details about two key phone calls he had with Lord Black in which they hatched the scheme to defraud the company. However, under fierce cross examination by defence lawyers, Mr. Radler's credibility suffered and he was constantly labelled a liar. By the end of the trial, lead prosecutor Eric Sussman told jurors that they could ignore Mr. Radler's testimony.
In court filings, Mr. Radler's lawyers have said that he has faced public scorn and suffered extreme hardship as a result of his co-operation. They also said Mr. Radler acknowledges that what he did was wrong and he is sorry.
Today's ruling by Judge St. Eve comes a week after she sentenced Lord Black to 6.5 years in prison and fined him $125,000 on fraud and obstruction of justice charges. Co-defendants Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee received 24 and 27 months respectively for fraud. The other defendant Mark Kipnis received six months under house arrest for fraud. All four are also on the hook for $6.1-million in forfeiture. Judge St. Eve is expected to rule soon on how much each man must pay. Mr. Radler is not included in the forfeiture order.