BOSTON - A German man who called himself Clark Rockefeller and spun fantastic stories about himself during three decades in the United States was convicted yesterday of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter and sentenced to four to five years in prison.
Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, snatched the girl on a Boston street during a supervised visit last July and took her to Baltimore.
The jurors, who began deliberating Monday, rejected the theory put forth by Gerhartsreiter's lawyers: that he was suffering from a delusional disorder and was legally insane. Prosecutors called the diagnosis "preposterous" and said he planned the kidnapping for months because he was angry that his wife had divorced him and gained custody of their daughter, Reigh.
Gerhartsreiter also was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for ordering the driver of an SUV to pull away with a social worker clinging to the door. The jury acquitted him on another assault count and on a charge of giving a false name to police.
Judge Frank Graziano sentenced him to four to five years in state prison on the parental-kidnapping count and a concurrent two to three years on the assault charge, for which he could have faced up to 10 years.
Graziano said he considered Rockefeller's attachment to his daughter and his "despair" over losing her, but also his disregard for the law and lack of empathy for the girl, his ex-wife, and the social worker.
"The defendant was by all accounts a loving and devoted father to his daughter," the judge said. But he added that Gerhartsreiter had a "long and well-documented history of deceit" that included an attempt to "outmaneuver" his ex-wife by taking an $800,000 divorce settlement from her and then planning for months to take their daughter.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Denner had asked for a maximum sentence of two years, saying his client was a "mentally disturbed individual who as a father loved his daughter too much."