Man gets 5 years probation for stalking 'Law & Order' actress, must pay her $42K
|A man convicted of stalking "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" star Kathryn Erbe was sentenced today to five years probation and required to pay $42,000 restitution for frightening the actress.|
Charles Nagel was convicted in Brooklyn federal court of using the mail and the Internet to annoy Erbe, who starred in one of his favorite small screen shows.
Nagel, a dealer in television and motion picture memorabilia whose collection includes some rare Batman comic books, was a self-confessed aficionado of the popular "Law & Order" crime series.
His admiration for the actress led him try to strike up a friendship with her, and he sent messages through intermediaries that proclaimed, "I’m your greatest fan in the world."
Nagel shared his feelings for the actress with other fans online, Brooklyn federal prosecutors say, writing, "I want to look in her eyes and make love" and, "Kathryn is everything, and everything is Kathryn."
One day in 2008, Nagel - who lives in Philadelphia - packed his wife and children into a car and drove to New York to visit locations where the TV series was filmed.
Erbe, who testified at the trial last fall, recalled meeting Nagel at a Washington Heights location shoot.
As she prepared to tape a scene for the prime time show, the actress said she greeted Nagel and his family, signed autographs for them, and even posed for photos.
But later, after an unpleasant encounter with a studio security guard, things changed for the worse.
Prosecutors argued that Nagel became a stalker whose quest for revenge and fixation with the "Law & Order" actress eventually provoked behavior that was both chilling and abusive.
He wrote hundreds of messages on MySpace about the TV star, prosecutors say, at one point Nagel even contacting Erbe's daughter through Facebook.
While on the witness stand, Erbe broke down and cried as she recalled a doctored photo of her teenage daughter that Nagel had posted online, with a hand-drawn cockroach scrawled across the 14-year-old girl's face -- and a dialog bubble with the words "I'm ugly."
Before pronouncing his sentence today, Judge Jack Weinstein said that Nagel "had inflicted all sorts of harm" by his actions - both to his own family and to Erbe.
"The evidence was clear - this woman was terrified. Her child was terrified. It seems to me the evidence was overwhelming," Weinstein said.
At trial, Nagel maintained his innocence and insisted that he thought he had struck up a close Internet friendship with the actress only to learn after his arrest that he had been corresponding to an imposter posing as Erbe.
Before being sentenced today, Nagel told the judge that he harbored no feelings of "romantic obsession" for the actress.
"I really never had any malicious or salacious intentions," Nagel said.
But after the judge said that evidence suggested otherwise and described Nagel's declarations of innocence to be "an incredible performance," Nagel broke down crying and claimed to have been assaulted in jail while awaiting trial.
"I'm begging you to keep me with my family. I'm sorry," he sobbed.
Federal prosecutors said today that Nagel had perjured himself and was not the innocent he pretended to be.
"He chose to do what he did. He knew exactly what he was doing," Assistant US Attorney Allon Lifshitz told the judge.
The judge said that the case was a complex one and the sentence reflected the fact that Nagel has already served 115 days in jail while awaiting trial, plus an additional 380 days of house arrest.
Nagel, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to sexually accosting a young girl in Philadelphia, declined to comment.