Skating gold medalist gets 8 years for kidnap plot

Updated: August 7, 2006, 11:18 AM ET
Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria -- Former Olympic figure skating gold medalist Wolfgang Schwarz was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for plotting to kidnap the teenage daughter of a prominent Romanian businessman and hold her for nearly $4 million in ransom.

Schwarz, 59, made a surprise confession to the charges earlier in the day. A prosecutor said Schwarz was motivated by "greed and selfishness" last October in plotting the abduction and hiring someone to commit the crime, which was never carried out.

"I admit it was my idea to kidnap the woman. I cannot explain it," the Austria Press Agency quoted Schwarz as telling the court during questioning.

The 1968 Olympic champion had faced up to 20 years in prison.

"The motive for the whole thing was of course greed and selfishness. Anyone could use two to three million euros," APA quoted state attorney Christian Temsch as saying.

Schwarz reportedly sold a home on the outskirts of Vienna to a Romanian law firm, which in turn rented it to Romanian businessman, Andrei Serban. Serban's 18-year-old daughter, Andreea, was the last person to live in the house.

"Very good. He got what he deserved," Serban, the mayor of the northeastern Romanian city of Slanic-Moldova, told The Associated Press.

In December, Schwarz was acquitted of separate charges that he allegedly brought young Lithuanian girls to Austria to work as prostitutes. He was convicted on similar trafficking charges in 2002, when he admitted to bringing in five women from Russia and Lithuania. He insisted he did it to help the women.

Schwarz was sentenced then to 1½ years in jail, but that punishment was postponed because he was suffering from the side effects of treatment for skin cancer.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press