A California appeals court Thursday rejected a bid by Frank Sinatra Jr.’s kidnapper to sell his story to a movie studio for $1 million, saying that a state law barred criminals from making money off their crimes.
In a swift, unanimous ruling that came one day after arguments in the case, a three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court dismissed arguments by Barry Keenan that California’s Victims Rights Law was unconstitutional.
The court’s decision will have no effect on the planned movie, which is being made by Columbia Pictures and director Betty Thomas, but it would prevent Keenan from collecting any profits.
Keenan and two other men kidnapped Sinatra at gunpoint from a Lake Tahoe casino and held him captive until his famous father paid a $240,000 ransom, which was eventually recovered.
The justices also disagreed with Keenan’s claim that, because his crime was committed 36 years ago — long before the so-called “Son-of-Sam” statute was passed — he should not be subject to its provisions.
Keenan, who spent five years in federal prison for the 1963 kidnapping, has vowed to donate his fee from the movie to charity, and said he was pursuing the appeal only because he wants to tell the story his way.
His lawyer, Stephen Rohde, said Keenan would appeal the 2nd District ruling to the California Supreme Court.