Conrad Black is a lucky man. The former Fairfax Media proprietor was whistling Dixie and smiling his head off while leaving the Derksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago yesterday. He has been given a cosy bolt-hole in which to write a few more books while away from his nagging wife – but no conjugal visits.

Lord Fraud has been given a soft sentence of 78 months to be “served” at a soft prison facility linked to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, which just happens to be close to his Palm Beach mansion. Better still, he is free to live in the mansion until 3 March next year and drink a glass or two of good French wine every day while he plans his inevitable appeal.

US District Court Judge Amy St Eve said she could continue to own his Palm Beach home, along with proceeds from the sale of his New York apartment, despite the severity of his crime. In July, Black was convicted of three counts of fraud and on charge of obstruction of justice. The prosecution asked for 30 years.

Oh, the multimillionaire has to pay a massive fine of US$125,000 as restitution for rorting US$6.1 million in shareholders’ funds and being caught on camera loading the evidence into the boot of his car.

This arrogant man showed no remorse and acknowledges no wrong-doing. Prior to being sentenced, he made a short, sarcastic statement to the court:

I do wish to express very profound regret and sadness at the severe hardship suffered by all the shareholders, including employees, by the evaporation of $1.85 billion in shareholder value under my successors [at Hollinger.]

Prosecutor Eric Sussman:

Mr Black and his colleagues simply stole money. What put him in here today was his own greed and his own disdain for the rule of law.

Judge Amy St. Eve:

No-one is above the law in the United States. I cannot understand how someone of your stature could engage in the conduct you engaged in and put everything at risk. But in the United States, Mr Black, there is equal justice under the law.

Black finished with the biggest lie of all:

We have the verdict we have and we can’t retry the case. I have never once uttered one disrespectful word about this court, your honour, the jurors or the process.

Black has continually claimed the case against him was “rubbish” and a “vendetta”.

Maybe it is just his form of black humour.