The other three charges on which he was found guilty involved "honest services fraud." He went to prison on this charge and on the obstruction charge, but he hired a gifted lawyer, Miguel Estrada, who took the charges to the Supreme Court and got the honest services law overturned. That is about the only thing I can say that was good about the federal government's proceedings against Conrad. We can thank him for eliminating the misuse of "the honest services" clause, but boy did it cost him. He spent a fortune on lawyers, lost his liberty, and his papers are all gone.
Last Friday, Conrad left his Florida prison and flew back to Canada. He will not be allowed back in the United States due to his conviction. He has been one of America's most ardent defenders, but his days here are no more. He is up in Toronto sipping white wine, living in his handsome mansion surrounded by his family, and enjoying his freedom. How will he spend his time?
My guess is that, with a few comforts added in, he will spend it much as he spent his time in prison. He will write. While in prison, he finished two major books and wrote innumerable book reviews and columns for the general press. He will lecture and travel. He will speak out on prison reform, most notably the reform of the draconian system that nailed him. Once the federal system focuses its attention on a private citizen, he is almost helpless to thwart it. Conrad came close, but he missed and spent almost 42 months in the clink.
During his incarceration, I kept in contact with him, as did others. He maintained a vast correspondence. His spirit was amazing. He never complained. He was not spiteful. He was always upbeat, indeed jaunty. He was astoundingly resourceful both in his defense, which he took a hand in, and in his wide-ranging journalism. Bill Clinton envisaged a fate for me not unlike Conrad Black's for my pursuit of Bill in the 1990s. I am not sure I would have measured up.
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