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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just Like Summer Camp

Posted By on 05.15.07 at 12:32 PM

Edward Greenspan stopped browbeating David Radler Monday and gave him some wonderful news. “Surely you’ve heard that the moment you go to a Canadian prison the Canadian rules of parole apply,” said Greenspan.

“I did not know what you just told me,” said Radler. 

“I think I’m going to send you a bill,” said Greenspan.

Greenspan, the trial lawyer for Radler’s former business partner, Conrad Black, wrapped up his cross-examination of Radler by letting Black’s jury know what a sweet deal Radler has going for him if he tells the court what the prosecution wants it to hear. Black’s charged with fraud. Radler pleaded guilty to fraud and is testifying against Black. Radler and the U.S. attorney have an understanding that when Black’s trial ends Radler will be sentenced to a 29-month prison sentence he can serve in Canada.

“You know in Canada anyone who gets three years or less for a nonviolent crime is out in six months,” said Greenspan. Radler replied, “I look the jury straight in the face. I did not know that. I heard rumors . . .”  

Radler, the former COO of Hollinger International, is a Canadian whose home is in Vancouver, although he was frequently in Chicago while he ran the Sun-Times and Hollinger’s other Chicago-area papers. Black, the former CEO of Hollinger, was a Canadian until he renounced Canadian citizenship in order to join Britain’s House of Lords.     

Greenspan was telling Radler something he clearly wished the jury to believe Radler already knew. Greenspan also said that in addition to being much more generous with parole, Canada has a policy of placing prisoners close to their homes. “I take it you know that the most likely prisons you’ll be sentenced to in British Columbia are Ferndale or William Head. Have you heard of Ferndale”    

No, said Radler, he hadn’t.    

“Have you heard there you can raise cattle? And there’s a golf therapy program.”    

“As a nongolfer,” said Radler, “that’s not going to help me.”    

Greenspan asked, “Do you  know William Head is called ‘Club Fed ’ in Canada? Did you know it’s got 86 acres of maintained grounds and until recently had a miniature golf course?”    

Radler insisted he was not conversant with the prisons of British Columbia.    

“You’re a bottom-line kind of guy, right?” said Greenspan. He told Radler the deal he’d gotten for testifying against Black “is the best deal you’ve ever gotten in a lifetime of making deals” -- better than the Paxton deal, the Forum deal, or any of the other deals in which Radler and Black allegedly made a fortune in fraudulent noncompete fees. “Sir, I do not believe that going to prison is a deal,” said Radler. Greenspan wants the jury to conclude that Radler did all those deals on his own, leaving Black out of it. “And for this unbelievable sweetheart deal,” Greenspan went on, “you have to give the government what they wanted when no crime was committed by anyone but you.”    

Greenspan is a sly fellow, and I wondered if Radler is in for a grimmer experience than Greenspan was letting on. Perhaps Radler, who contained his excitement at Greenspan’s gushing description of Club Fed, wondered that too.  I came across a memoir written by Ferndale’s late warden, Ron Wiebe. He allowed, “The golf course that we built at Ferndale has become a focal point for criticism.” But it’s taught inmates social skills, Wiebe maintained, not to mention “work opportunities that resulted in a number of men getting careers in golf-course maintenance and working in the landscape business.”    

Ferndale and William Head each holds about 140 inmates, who cook their own meals and live in residences they maintain themselves. Ferndale’s about 50 miles east of Vancouver. William Head, located at the tip of Victoria Island, has a celebrated theater program whose annual productions are open to the public. Inmates write some of the plays, but last November they did Macbeth.    

Assistant warden Chantal Jacques told me Radler could be released after six months, but it’s not automatic. That’s for Canada’s national parole board to decide, and if he’s paroled he might still have to spend months living in a halfway house. Fortunately, William Head offers a range of programs for visitors staying longer than they’d like. The title of one sounds fascinating, but “In Search of Your Warrior” is for aboriginal inmates only. However, there’s a quarterly inmate newspaper, Out of Bounds.

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