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The Chicago Tribune

Law to Fight Corruption Takes a Hit with Supreme Court Ruling

David G. Savage

WASHINGTON - A Supreme Court ruling Thursday weakens key anti-corruption legislation. Justices ruled that the law against "honest-services" fraud was too vague to constitute a crime unless a bribe or kickback was involved.

The decision is likely to have far-reaching consequences and could affect the recent convictions of public figures and corporate executives - including former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling and former Chicago newspaper magnate Conrad Black.

Both Skilling and Black had appealed to the Supreme Court. Thursday's high court decision would not affect their convictions on other charges.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is being tried on multiple charges of corruption, including depriving the public of honest services.

Over the last two decades, the law against "honest-services" fraud has been used routinely in cases in which public officials or corporate executives have been accused of secretly scheming to benefit themselves at the expense of the public or their stock holders.

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