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Conrad Black reports to prison in Florida

/ Source: The Associated Press

Former newspaper baron Conrad Black, a prominent biographer and member of the British House of Lords, reported to prison Monday to begin 6 1/2-year sentence for swindling shareholders in his Hollinger International media empire.

Black turned himself in to the low security prison in Florida's Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mike Truman.

Black and two co-defendants, John A. Boultbee and Peter Y. Atkinson, were convicted last July in Chicago for siphoning millions of dollars out of the company. The three were acquitted of most of the charges against them, but convicted of three counts each of fraud, with Black also convicted of obstruction of justice for illegally hauling records out of his office.

Black received the longest sentence. Boultbee was sentenced to 27 months and Atkinson was sentenced to 24 months. Black also was ordered to pay $6.1 million in restitution.

Black had sought to stay free on bond on grounds there was a strong possibility his conviction would be reversed, but a Chicago federal appeals court denied his request last week.

His efforts have been followed closely in Great Britain and Canada. Black is Canadian-born, but surrendered his Canadian citizenship to become a member of the British House of Lords — Lord Black of Crossharbour.

The prison Black reported to is in central Florida, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando and 60 miles northeast of Tampa. It is also about 190 miles from Black's estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

Hollinger was once one of the world's largest newspaper holding companies with hundreds of community newspapers across the United States and Canada as well as The Daily Telegraph of London, the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times. All of its largest papers have now been sold except the Sun-Times and the company has been renamed Sun-Times News Group.