Page last updated at 20:26 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 21:26 UK

'Rockefeller' kidnapper is jailed

Christian Gerhartsreiter
Prosecutors said Gerhartsreiter's claims of insanity were 'preposterous'

A German who claimed to be a descendant of oil tycoon John D Rockefeller has been jailed for five years for kidnapping his seven-year-old daughter.

Christian Gerhartsreiter, 48, who called himself Clark Rockefeller, had also been found guilty of assaulting the child's social worker as he fled.

The kidnapping happened last July in the US city of Boston, after his British ex-wife was granted custody.

A Boston jury rejected claims he was legally insane at the time.

Prosecutors had described his defence team's claims as "preposterous", arguing that Gerhartsreiter had been planning the abduction for months.

He had snatched his daughter, Reigh, on a Boston street during a supervised visit and fled to Baltimore with her.

The "assault and battery with a dangerous weapon" charge related to his ordering the driver of a sport utility vehicle to pull away with the social worker clinging to the door.

'Taken in'

Gerhartsreiter had married Sandra Boss, 42, a senior partner in the London office of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, in 1995.

During the trial, she told the court that she had been taken in by Gerhartsreiter's stories of his family wealth throughout their 12-year marriage.

It was only after she hired a private investigator during divorce proceedings in 2007 that she learned the truth about his past, she said.

The jury heard Gerhartsreiter had used many aliases as he mingled among the wealthy in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, having arrived in the US in 1978 as a 17-year-old student.

Over the next 30 years he adopted a number of different personas, ranging from physicist to billionaire art collector.

Despite revelations about his past, the jury acquitted him of another assault count and a further charge of giving a false name to police.

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