Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Frank Sinatra, Jr. Kidnapping

Life Goes On

Forty years after he walked out of prison, Keenan is a lifetime removed from his federal felony, although he has nurtured his obsession with money. Right out of the joint, he got busy making his first million through real estate projects, including office and residential buildings, retirement homes and RV parks.

Book Cover: Stealing Sinatra
Book Cover: Stealing Sinatra

A recovering alcoholic and repeat-offender groom, Keenan helped develop Lake Whitney, south of Fort Worth, Texas, where he now lives, and is involved in other high-end residential projects.

In 1998, Keenan told the story of the kidnapping for the first time, to Gilstrap of L.A. Weekly. The long, comical account of the unlikely crime became the basis of a 2003 Showtime film, Stealing Sinatra, starring Ryan Browning, David Arquette and William H. Macy as the hapless kidnappers.

Keenan was to earn as much as $1.5 million for participating in the production, but Sinatra, Jr. successfully sued him under California's Son of Sam Law to stop him from profiting from the film.

Keenan has said that one of his greatest regrets about the crime was the defense strategy to blame Sinatra, Jr.

He said it was the idea of defense attorney Root, who died in 1982 at age 77, after Keenan told her that Sinatra, Jr. was "very cooperative."

Joe Amsler, meanwhile, had a brief career in motion pictures, acting as a stand-in and stunt double for actor Ryan O'Neal, another schoolmate, in such films as The Thief Who Came to Dinner and What's Up, Doc?

He later worked as a ranch hand in California before retiring to Virginia with health problems. Amsler, 65, died of liver failure in Roanoke on May 6, 2006.

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