U.S. District Judge Oliver Gasch imposed three consecutive life sentences yesterday on a 27-year-old Houston man convicted of abducting the wife of a wealthy businessman at gunpoint from a Washington hotel last summer.
Dennis Moss, who was found guilty two months ago by a federal court jury of kidnaping Edith Rosenkranz and holding her for two days for a $1 million ransom, also was sentenced by Gasch to a total of 106 years in prison on other, related charges.
Gasch ordered that that time run concurrently with the life terms.
The alleged leader of the kidnaping, Glenn I. Wright, 42, also of Houston, is scheduled for sentencing today in Gasch's courtroom.
A U.S. Bureau of Prisons official said Moss will be eligible for parole in 10 years.
Rosenkranz, 60, the wife of the founder of Syntex Corp., a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, was freed unharmed by Wright and Moss after her husband arranged for payment of the ransom.
The FBI arrested both men and recovered the money within minutes of her release.
U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova praised Gasch's sentence, saying, "It sends a strong signal to would-be kidnapers, whether they are motivated by ransom or political reasons, that the answer to such actions is swift and sure in the District of Columbia."
Gasch made no comment in handing down the sentence, which was the maximum under the law. "The court is not in the habit of lecturing a defendant about the crime of which he has been convicted," the judge said.
"I feel I did not have a fair trial," Moss told Gasch angrily before the sentence was imposed. "I was always in the background, while the trial focused on Mr. Wright. Nobody checked how I lived in Houston."
Moss said he was employed at the time the kidnaping was planned and had no motive for getting involved.
Moss contended at the trial that he acted under duress because he feared Wright, whom he met in a Houston bar, might kill him if he did not cooperate.
Moss said in court he will appeal his conviction.
"There's no way I can live with myself and not appeal," he said. "If I did it, then I deserve life. I'm just not like that."
The soft-spoken, Austrian-born Rosenkranz testified that she was handcuffed and blindfolded during much of her captivity. She acknowledged that Moss did not harm her, but testified that she was terrified by the abduction.
Gasch imposed life sentences on each of three counts against Moss: conspiracy to kidnap, kidnaping and assault with intent to kidnap while armed.
Moss also was convicted of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, possession of ransom money, use of a firearm while committing a felony, possessing a pistol without a license and four counts of illegal use of a telephone.
Dramatic tapes made by the FBI of Moss' telephoned ransom demands were played for the jury during the trial in December.
A codefendant in the case, Orland D. Tolden, 26, of Houston, recently was sentenced by Gasch to seven years in prison.