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Sinatra Kidnappers Found Guilty

Mar. 7, 1964 - A Federal District Court jury returned guilty verdicts tonight in Los Angeles against the three men charged with kidnapping Frank Sinatra Jr. for $240,000 ransom last December.

Within minutes, two of the defendants — Barry Keenan and Joseph Amsler, both 23 — were given provisional maximum terms of life imprisonment and additional totaling 75 years each. Each was convicted on all points in a six-count indictment covering conspiracy and five criminal acts in the kidnapping-and-ransoming operation.

The third defendant, John Irwin, 42, was acquitted on one count, participation in the actual abduction, which carried the life-imprisonment penalty imposed on the others. He was convicted on the five other counts, entailing the aggregate of 75 years’ imprisonment imposed on the others.

The jury returned the verdicts after seven hours of deliberation, following a month-long trial and three months after the commission of the crime. The jurors rejected a defense claim that Sinatra Jr. permitted himself to be kidnapped as a publicity stunt.

U.S. District Judge William East told the jury of nine men and three women that he concurred with its findings as “fair and just” and complimented them on the fact that they “saw through” the hoax claim.

The FBI recovered virtually all of the ransom money paid by Frank Sinatra Sr. and rounded up the defendants within six days of the abduction.

Frank Sinatra Sr. said: “The jury has rendered a just verdict, and we are happy that they and the court were not confused by the false statements and innuendoes made during the trial and elaborated on by the press. We hope that this will put an end to what was a very painful incident in our lives.”

Frank Sinatra Jr., the kidnapping victim, was appearing tonight in Camden, N.J., with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra — the same group he was with the night he was kidnapped. He could not be reached for comment.


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