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April 30, 2001

B.C. con man's warning: 'If they catch me, I will make no deal'
Rocancourt boastful in interview before his arrest in Victoria

King Lee
National Post ,with files from The Province; The Canadian Press

Maria Reyes, common-law wife of Christopher Rocancourt, appeared in Playboy magazine in 1988.

(Christopher) Rocancourt

VICTORIA - An alleged con artist wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and police in several U.S. states said before he was arrested that he is prepared to "do my time" and not make any deals with police.

Christopher Rocancourt, who was arrested by police in British Columbia in a 20-second takedown last week, also said: "I would not consider myself a criminal -- I steal with my mind. If I take things, if that is your definition of a criminal, then I am a criminal."

In the interview last year with The New York Times, he speculated on his chances of being arrested and said: "That is in the hands of God. If they catch me, I will make no deal. I will do my time."

And of his charm, Mr Rocancourt said: "I'm not too tall. I have a broken nose, but I've had pretty good luck. I'm well read and I'm a gentleman. Women find this attractive. What can I say?"

Mr. Rocancourt was born in Honfleur, France in 1967, the son of a drunken housepainter father and a 17-year-old prostitute mother. He spent time in an orphanage before being adopted at age 12 by a military man. At the age of 18, he fled for the streets of Paris, where he decided to reinvent himself.

Last Thursday night Mr. Rocancourt, 33, who is wanted in New York, Los Angeles and Virginia, was arrested in a car near the elegant, Tudor-style beachfront hotel where he was staying in Oak Bay, a quiet and wealthy suburb of Victoria.

"It was all over in about 20 seconds," said Sergeant Ron Coul, an Oak Bay police detective. "He was more than a little shocked."

Hours earlier, Sgt. Coul was called to a briefing with other officers, including members of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team, after police surveillance had confirmed Mr. Rocancourt was staying at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel with his wife and four-year-old son.

Sgt. Coul said Mr. Rocancourt's take down was without incident after he had pulled over in the quiet neighbourhood near the hotel.

Mr. Rocancourt, wanted by the RCMP's commercial crime unit on fraud charges stemming from complaints in Vancouver and the ski-resort town of Whistler, was grabbed from his car by the emergency response team. His common-law wife, Maria Reyes, and their son, Zeus, were taken into custody at their hotel room shortly afterward. The child was placed in the care of the pro-vince's Ministry for Children and Families.

Mr. Rocancourt has been described as a charming Frenchman known for his impersonations, exotic hideouts and high lifestyle. One of his trademarks was always being accompanied by beautiful women. U.S. police allege Mr. Rocancourt has duped victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by passing himself off as a son of film producer Dino De Laurentiis and film star Sophia Loren as well as a member of the Rockefeller family.

He has also posed as a boxing champion and as the nephew of clothes designer Oscar de la Renta.

He is alleged to have lived in Los Angeles with actor Mickey Rourke and boasted of business deals with Jean Claude Van Damme. His address book held private numbers for Robert De Niro and Dolph Lundgren, although there is no evidence he met either man.

In Los Angeles, he held court at the Regent Beverley Wilshire hotel for six months, entertaining a string of mysterious, worldly friends who fell for his lavish hospitality, his taste for expensive champagne and his promises of spectacular business deals.

He has been dubbed by some as "Robbing Hood" and is the subject of an ABC-TV Primetime segment to be aired tonight. Mr. Rocancourt has had brushes with the law in France and Switzerland and has been banned from the latter until 2016. In Switzerland, he was alleged to have been involved in a robbery that netted several hundred thousand francs worth of jewelry.

In addition, he is facing a series of charges in the United States, ranging from printing false passports to fraud, bail-jumping and assault with a deadly weapon.

Mr. Rocancourt is to appear in provincial court in Vancouver today. Police were interviewing Mr. Rocancourt on charges of fraud, theft and personation.

Ms. Reyes, 36, who also goes by the name of Pia and appeared in a 1988 Playboy magazine photo spread, was released on bail with a condition that she not leave B.C. and was ordered to appear in court in Vancouver on May 14.


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