A U.S. District Court jury convicted Glenn I. Wright and Dennis Moss yesterday of the kidnaping last summer of Edith Rosenkranz, the wife of a wealthy businessman, from a Washington hotel.
The jurors deliberated three hours before finding Wright and Moss, both of Houston, guilty on a total of 13 counts, including kidnaping and conspiracy to kidnap, which carry life sentences.
District Judge Oliver Gasch did not immediately set a sentencing date.
We're very pleased with the verdict," said U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova, "and with the fine investigative work of the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department in a very sensitive situation in which they saved all the lives."
Thomas Abbenante, Moss' lawyer, said he would consider an appeal. Wright's lawyer, William Garber, was unavailable for comment.
Wright, 42, the mastermind of the kidnaping plot, and Moss, 26, the gunman who abducted Rosenkranz from the Sheraton Washington Hotel, where she and her husband were attending a bridge tournament, stood expressionless as the verdict on each count was announced by the jury foreman.
Rosenkranz, whose husband George founded the Syntex Corp., a pharmaceutical firm, was released unharmed after being held by Moss for 48 hours in the Norfolk area. A $1 million ransom paid by her husband was recovered by the FBI.
The jury rejected defense arguments that Wright, a Houston businessman in financial difficulty, was insane at the time of the abduction. The jurors also rebuffed Moss' contention that he took part in the kidnaping because Wright had threatened to kill him.
The case marked the last time federal prosecutors here will bear the legal burden of proving a defendant sane. Under an omnibus crime bill enacted by Congress this fall, it will now fall to defendants to prove mental illness.
Both Wright and Moss testified during the two-week trial, each painting the other as deeply involved in the kidnaping and eager to have the ransom.
A pretrial motion by Wright's lawyer for a separate trial -- arguing that Moss' defense of duress would prejudice the jury against Wright -- was denied.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles J. Harkins Jr. and Pamela B. Stuart hammered at Wright's insanity claim, depicting him as a failed -- if emotionally troubled -- entrepreneur who simply needed money.
Moss, the prosecutors charged, was a willing participant in the conspiracy.
Dr. Bernardo Hirschman, a defense psychiatrist, testified that Wright was mentally ill last summer, suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder rooted in childhood sexual abuse.
Wright's financial problems, his homosexuality, the death last year of his mother and the fatal shooting of his former lover in an unsolved homicide, all left Wright unable to control his actions, Hirschman said.
Terry Peterson, 39, of Victoria, Tex., a longtime friend of Wright's, testified that "the devastation of losing [his slain lover] was enormous. Glenn was a person who no longer cared about very much."
A key prosecution witness, Orland D. Tolden, 26, another of Wright's lovers, told the jurors Wright planned the kidnaping "because his business was in big trouble and he really didn't see any way out."
Tolden pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap in September and is awaiting sentencing.
A psychiatrist from St. Elizabeths Hospital, where Wright has been held since his arrest, testified that Wright appeared suicidal for several months, but was not mentally ill. A second government psychiatrist agreed with that view.
Wright took the witness stand despite reminders from his lawyer, William Garber, and Judge Gasch that he was not required to testify. It is rare for a defendant pleading insanity to testify, according to lawyers in the case.
Wright testified he felt he had to kidnap Rosenkranz because his only other option was to kill himself.
But during cross-examination, prosecutor Stuart asked Wright, "If in July you'd won a million dollars in a lottery, you wouldn't have kidnaped Mrs. Rosenkranz, would you?"
"Probably not," said Wright.