Fell on Deaf Ears
As we near the end of Radler’s testimony, and both sides madly sow the seeds of what each hopes will, in the decisive moment, flower into either sufficient certainty or reasonable doubt, I keep coming back to a particular section in Tom Bower’s book. In it, he reports that at the height of Black’s initial run-in with Richard Breeden (in late 2003–early 2004), RBC Capital Markets chair Tony Fell (a childhood friend of Black’s) flew to New York to offer his Lordship advice. “Arriving at the agreed hour,” Bower writes, “Fell grew angry as he was kept waiting. On his return to Toronto he announced, ‘Conrad hasn’t got a hope in hell as far as I’m concerned.’ Black had lost another ally.”
There’s a lot to read between the lines here. Among Toronto’s business elite, Fell has a sterling reputation for integrity and incorruptibility. Whatever was said between them that led to Fell’s denunciation—and one suspects that Fell will take the details of that conversation to his grave—would likely have had implications that ran well beyond Black’s business and legal situation. His travails would certainly have fallen second in Fell’s mind to his standing in their shared community. Fell would not likely have undertaken a mission of mercy without the sense Black’s case was salvageable. Had Black followed his dictums rather than rousing his ire, he might not be in Room 1241 today.