A saga currently unfolding in Chicago has a former Cincinnati CEO at its nexus.

Cyrus Freidheim Jr., the 71-year-old former chief executive of Chiquita Brands International, is now at the helm of Sun-Times Media Group Inc. But increasingly, Conrad Black, the Sun-Times’ former boss, looks like he’ll beat back the criminal charges that unseated Black from power in the first place.

If you haven’t been following this trial, you ought to have been. Black, the Canadian tycoon, and some of his other executives were accused of systematically looting the Sun-Times company by allegedly funneling $80 million in “non-competition” payments to themselves. The Sun-Times company filed a $535-million lawsuit against Black; he retaliated with his own $645-million defamation suit.

Through all this delicious infighting and back-biting, Black remains the firm’s No. 1 private—and controlling—shareholder. Assuming the Securities and Exchange Commission doesn’t bar Black from taking back the helm of the public company, which is unlikely if he’s cleared by the courts, then pandemonium will surely reign in the boardroom.

So wouldn’t you like to be Cyrus Freidheim right now?

A bit of background on poor Mister Freidheim. As many Cincinnatians know, he served as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Chiquita Brands for a good part of this decade. Freidheim—former chairman of Old Harbour Partners, a private investment firm he founded, as well as author of The Trillion-Dollar Enterprise: How the Alliance Revolution Will Transform Global Business—was brought in to save Chiquita from itself following the Enquirer fiasco and resulting bad press. If you need a history lesson in this imbroglio, please consult Google. We simply don’t have the space here.

From day one, Freidheim discussed the ‘oft controversial history of Chiquita and spoke frankly about the challenges faced by the company as it sought to overcome a stunning image problem stemming from its policies on labor rights and environmental issues.

“The company was closed and defensive about bad working conditions for its employees,” conceded Freidheim during his early days in the chief executive’s suite. “Then Chiquita realized it had to change.”

Under Freidheim, the firm became much more transparent about its dealings, publicizing both its successes and failures in its “responsibility reports” available on the company Web site.

Last year, Fernando Aguirre, the new president and chief executive officer of Chiquita, assumed responsibilities as chairman of the board, freeing Freidheim to encounter his current managerial nightmare.

At press time, the jury was still considering the case of the United States Vs. Conrad Black, which at least one business weekly has characterized as the white-collar trial of the century. Most observers were betting Black would beat the nine counts of wire and mail fraud, two counts of tax fraud, one count of obstruction of justice and one of racketeering.

Assuming that happens, this will be a fascinating month for Mr. Freidheim and his associates. Conrad Black will be back in the seat of power of the Sun-Times media empire. He will likely suggest that Cyrus Freidheim Jr. and his entourage should promptly and enthusiastically dust off their resumes.

Which brings us to this obvious point: Hey, are there any Cincinnati companies out there looking for a seasoned CEO?