Black's partner Radler given 29 months for fraud

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The Independent Online

David Radler, Conrad Black's business partner for 37 years, has been handed a 29-month prison sentence as part of the plea deal that saw him testify against the convicted media baron.

Radler, No 2 in the Hollinger International media empire that once controlled The Daily Telegraph, admitted helping Black and others pocket millions of dollars in secret payments. He pleaded guilty to a single fraud charge in 2005 in return for helping build the US government's case.

Black himself was sentenced last week to six and a half years in a US prison. The Chicago judge, Amy St Eve, rejected prosecution calls for a much stiffer penalty, saying Black and Radler were "equally culpable" and Black should not serve a sentence that was many times harsher than the one agreed for Radler.

"You took a lot of money from Hollinger International at great expense to the company and the shareholders," she told Radler at yesterday's hearing, but acknowledged his co-operation with the government. Radler has returned $63m to Hollinger.

"I'm sorry for what I've done," the 65-year-old told her.

Radler's sentence will most likely be spent in large part in a jail in his native Canada, where he will be eligible for parole and could be out in little more than a year. Outside court, his attorney, Anton Valukas, said the sentencing brings relief for his client. "This is the first day of the rest of his life."

Radler's betrayal ended what had been the media industry's most enduring business partnership, stretching back to the purchase of their first newspaper in Canada in 1969.

In eight days of testimony and cross-examination at Black's trial in the summer, Radler explained how the pair had paid themselves bogus "non-compete" fees when Hollinger sold newspapers at the beginning of the decade. Black's lawyers had tried to paint him as a self-serving and unreliable witness.

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