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Jury picked in trial of ex-media mogul

March 16, 2007|From Reuters

CHICAGO — The judge presiding over Conrad Black's criminal fraud trial settled on a jury Thursday that will decide the fate of the former media baron after quizzing more than 80 people about their thoughts on the powerful and wealthy.

Trying to identify any bias against people of wealth or those with honorary titles, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve recited a response from a potential juror to a questionnaire asking their thoughts about people who made millions.

"I don't think anyone -- outside of Donald Trump -- makes that much money," the judge read from the woman's response.

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday.

As Canadian-born Black left the courthouse, he was asked a question in French by a reporter. He responded: "J'ai toute la confiance," meaning he was very confident.

The jury will decide whether the 62-year-old Black and three former associates skimmed millions of dollars from Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc.

Black, a member of Britain's House of Lords, faces charges of fraud, racketeering, tax violations, obstruction of justice and money laundering.

His former associates face fewer counts.

Together the defendants stand accused of stealing $84 million from the sales of newspapers and magazines that prosecutors say belonged to shareholders of Hollinger, once a worldwide media giant.

Black could receive a 101-year prison sentence and more than $50 million in fines if convicted. He has called the charges a "massive smear job."

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