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In opening statements Tuesday, the U.S. government zeroed in on Mark Kipnis, an Illinois lawyer, as the man who paved the way for media mogul Conrad Black and two other co-defendants to engage in mail, wire and tax fraud and joined in the crimes that bilked Hollinger International Inc. of millions of dollars.

Kipnis, who was vice president and corporate counsel for Hollinger International Inc. in its Chicago offices, was fingered by prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer as the defendant who was always ready with a pen to sign off on agreements and other documents that helped illegitimately shift $60 million in shareholders’ money to the four defendants.

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