Fake Rockefeller Gets Jail Time

Christopher Rocancourt CBS

A Frenchman who claimed to be a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family in order to con the rich and famous out of $1.2 million was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

Christopher Rocancourt, 36, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and apologizing to U.S. District Judge Charles Sifton for his misdeeds.

"I take responsibility for my actions," he said at the sentencing Monday. "I apologize for what I did wrong."

In addition to getting three years and 10 months in federal prison, Rocancourt will also serve a concurrent sentence of up to four years, a sentence sought by prosecutors in suburban New York City's Suffolk County.

Rocancourt, who had pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to three years and 10 months in prison

Rocancourt, of Honfleur, France, used aliases like Christopher Rockefeller, William Van Hoven and Fabien Ortuno, the name on his fake French passport, to con 20 victims while hobnobbing with the well-heeled of Hollywood and Long Island's tony enclave, the Hamptons. He variously introduced himself as an international businessman, a movie producer and the son of Sophia Loren.

During the late 1990s, Rocancourt used the Rockefeller name to bilk investors, promising them fantastic returns while demanding cash up front for expenses. In one case, he collected a $100,000 advance fee from a woman in a meeting at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria hotel to arrange a $4.2 million loan, then stalled for months before disappearing with her money.

The Rockefellers are one of the United States' wealthiest families.

Rocancourt used his ill-gotten gains on fancy cars, helicopter rides and expensive hotel rooms. He was arrested after skipping out on a $19,000 bed-and-breakfast bill.

An FBI manhunt caught up to Rocancourt in 2001 in British Columbia, where he was posing as a racecar driver. He pleaded guilty to Canadian charges of cheating a businessman out of $100,000 and served a year in prison before being extradited to the United States earlier this year.

Sifton also ordered Rocancourt to repay the $1.2 million and instructed that 75 percent of any proceeds from his autobiography, "I, Christophe Rocancourt, Orphan, Playboy and Convict," published last year in French, and film rights go toward the repayments.

An English version of the book, called "The French Hustler," is in the works.
  • Jarrett Murphy

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