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CHICAGO � Despite the guilty verdicts reached last week in the trial of media tycoon Conrad Black, there’s still plenty of litigation to come for attorneys involved in cases related to alleged fraud at the former newspaper company Hollinger International. Hollinger, which has been renamed Sun-Times Media Group Inc., and former directors and executives of the company, still face a civil lawsuit brought by shareholders in U.S. district court in Chicago. Teacher’s Retirement System of Louisiana v. Black, No. 04-834 (N.D. Ill.). The former directors include Winston & Strawn attorney James Thompson, who was a four-term governor of Illinois. The shareholders case could be settled “within a month,” said Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton attorney Gordon Nash, the lawyer for Thompson. Black and his Canadian parent company, Hollinger Inc., also still face lawsuits by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC v. Black, No. 04-7377 (N.D. Ill.), and by Sun-Times Media, Hollinger International v. Hollinger Inc., No. 04-698. Verdict resonates In addition, the four defendants in the criminal case may seek to overturn their convictions. The Hollinger executives were found guilty of three counts each of mail fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice in the case of Black. Now they can’t deny those allegations in civil lawsuits, effectively proving plaintiffs’ cases on those points, said David Yellen, dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a criminal defense attorney. “The verdict itself will come into play in many situations,” said Michael Ramsey, the Houston attorney and solo practitioner who represented the late Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of criminal fraud in his former capacity as chairman of Enron Corp. The federal government said that Black and former Hollinger executives Mark Kipnis, Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee cheated Hollinger shareholders out of $60 million by funneling payments to themselves through noncompete agreements when the company sold newspaper assets. The prosecutors also argued that Black enriched himself by millions of additional dollars through illegal perks. As in the Enron case, the jury in the Hollinger case split its verdict, finding the defendants guilty of some charges and not others. The jury didn’t convict the former Hollinger executives on 29 other counts of wire fraud and racketeering. While the convictions help the civil litigants, not getting convictions on the other counts won’t hurt them because plaintiffs can still argue the basis of those other complaints in court, Yellen said. With the standard of proof on civil allegations being lower than on criminal charges, it could be easier to prove some of the other allegations in civil court. “The jury looked at it and said, ‘Let’s just convict them on those where it’s crystal clear,’ ” said Thompson, who testified in the Black case as the former chairman of the Hollinger International board audit committee. Thompson declined to comment on the shareholder case that includes him as a defendant. While Black’s attorneys, including Chicago attorney Edward Genson and Canadian lawyer Edward Greenspan, have said Black will appeal the verdict, the lawyer for Kipnis, Schiff Hardin’s Ron Safer, said he will first seek to have the verdict against his client thrown out by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve on the basis of a lack of evidence, he said. “I don’t think that the jury was able to differentiate between the roles of the various defendants,” Safer said. “I don’t question their diligence. I think they were clearly a conscientious jury, but I think we were asking them to do the impossible.”

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