Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter

He went by Chris Gerhart, Christopher Chichester, Christopher Crowe, CCC Mountbatten, and ultimately Clark Rockefeller, but his real name was Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, one of the strangest and most successful con men in the annals of history.

Mark Seal’s book on Gerharsreiter, The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, hits shelves this week and excerpts are available in The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair. As you might expect, the excerpts in the Journal focus heavily on his investment world deceptions, while Vanity Fair offers a broader view of his life of lies and crimes, including the kidnapping of his daughter in Boston, his arrest in Baltimore, and his upcoming trial for the murder of a California couple.

What is amazing is how easy it was for Gerhartsreiter to lie his way into people’s confidences, six-figure jobs, and exclusive clubs. But there was something creepy, too. Seal reports that the Social Security number Gerhartsreiter gave for one of his securities firm jobs belonged to David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as Son of Sam.

The Los Angeles Times review says Seal’s book reads like a true-life The Talented Mr. Ripley, a tale of how a bright young man can fairly easily dupe people who are smart, rich, and well educated. That’s a great description, but the Globe’s Maria Cramer writes in her review that after covering the case as a reporter she hungered for more. “There is no reflection or analysis of America’s obsession with bluebloods,” she writes. “Seal seems to be more interested in telling his readers over and over again that Gerhartsreiter never wore socks and was partial to Lacoste shirts.”

                                                                                                                                        –BRUCE MOHL

TORNADO AFTERMATH

Why did tornadoes strike Massachusetts? The Christan Science Monitor provides some explanations as does The Berkshire Eagle. The Eagle also looks back at a 1995 tornado that hit Great Barrington.The Globe has this day-after overview of the destruction.  And also this heart-wrenching story of a West Springfield mother whose instinct to protect her 15-year-old daughter cost her her life. More on that story here from the Springfield Republican. In Springfield, WBUR reports that residents shift from shock to recovery and NECN asks whether an early warning system could have helped. The Massachusetts congressional delegation has asked President Obama for a federal disaster declaration, plus other news from metro Springfield. Cape Cod first responders and Red Cross volunteers head out to the greater Springfield area to help with recovery efforts. The northern Berkshires are also sending assistance. The Worcester Business Journal surveys central Massachusetts damage.

BEACON HILL

Defense lawyers in the DiMasi corruption trial tossed a Hail Mary motion to have all charges thrown out.  CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, says the shady ways of backslapping lobbyists like Dickie McDonough, one of former House speaker Sal DiMasi’s codefendants, are (thankfully) becoming a fading presence on Beacon Hill. Peter Lucas, writing in the Lowell Sun, has a slightly different take.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Salem police get a new contract giving them a small raise but higher health care payments, the Salem News reports.

Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub reports a community meeting between Jamaica Plain residents and Whole Foods representatives about plans to bring the organic megachain into the neighborhood was fraught with tension and then cut short after two protesters were arrested.

New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang, who has said he will not run for reelection, says he won’t endorse any successor in the growing preliminary field and is unsure if he’ll back anyone in the general election either.

Segways are taking over in the Witch City, the Salem News reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Moody’s warns it will downgrade the US’s credit rating if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling “in coming weeks.” The ratings agency is also reexamining credit ratings at Wall Street banks, on the assumption that Washington may now be unwilling or unable to bail them out in a crisis.

Mayor of New York? US Rep. Anthony Weiner can probably fuhgeddaboudit.

John Edwards, the former Democratic presidential candidate and vice presidential nominee, is likely to be indicted today.

ELECTION 2012

Mitt Romney didn’t get much of a bounce after he formally announced his candidacy because Sarah Palin rolled into his backyard just as he was wrapping up, and the crew at “Greater Boston” wonders if it was coincidental timing or political sniping by the former vice presidential nominee. The Outraged Liberal, meanwhile, takes both pols to task for being tone deaf for going about their business without even a mention or acknowledgment of the tragedy down the road in the wake of the killer tornadoes. Scot Lehigh and Brian McGrory both have semi-nice things to say about Mitt. On the other hand, failed Alaskan Senate candidate Joe Miller, leader of a new Stop Romney movement, says Romney has “flipped more than John Kerry flopped.” Here’s Jim Braude’s take.

Here are nine questions about Mitt Romney. Question 1: Why is he running for president? Jim O’Sullivan, late of the State House News Service, wonders whether Romney is really ready for the tough road ahead.

Not surprisingly, The Washington Post finds lots of errors in various statements that Sarah Palin has made during her bus tour.

Oh, and Rudy Giuliani is actually serious about wanting another shot at the White House.

Choppergate continues: After initially refusing to payback the cost of his helicopter trip to his son’s baseball game, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie forks over some cash. He still plans to head out to Iowa in July to talk about education issues.

It’s looking like the auto industry bailout could be more boon than bust for President Obama’s reelection effort.

State Rep. Thomas Conroy officially joins the Senate race to unseat Scott Brown. Conroy has been sniping at the Wrentham dreamboat for several months now – most memorably, seeking out reporters and offering a withering but unsolicited assessment of Brown’s big Chamber of Commerce speech last fall.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Wall Street Journal spotlights the Public Finance Authority of Wisconsin, which jumps on municipal bond deals traditional public bonding agencies won’t touch.

EDUCATION

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester is sending an aide to participate in the search for a new Lawrence school superintendent, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A surprise inspection by Brockton police and Registry of Motor Vehicle officials resulted in 35 citations for violations, including three for driving without a license, among 57 school buses and drivers.

HEALTH CARE

The Globe reports that cancer researchers are encouraged by early results from new drugs targeting subgroups of cancers with a particular genetic make-up.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The woman in Lawrence who was picked up with suspicious documents in her possession and then called Mayor William Lantigua explains away the suspicious documents by saying she works for the IRS. The Eagle-Tribune has the story.

Some local bankers are fuming about a security breach at Michaels arts and crafts stores that compromised the debit card numbers and PINs of customers at 80 stores around the country, including at least five in Massachusetts, and were then used for fraudulent ATM withdrawals and purchases.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe denies warning two Cape men about a state illegal betting probe.

MEDIA

Jill Abramson becomes the first woman editor of The New York Times.