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The Grand Scheme

Author: Wondery | Spoke Media

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Hosted and narrated by John Stamos, The Grand Scheme: Snatching Sinatra is a complicated, nuanced story of one imperfect man trying to redeem himself by pulling off the perfect crime. Did you ever feel like everything’s broken, and it’s your job to fix it? That’s how Barry Keenan was feeling back in 1963. He was broke, unemployed, hooked on booze and pills, and his family was falling apart. Barry needed a miracle. And against all odds, he got one. One day the voice of God came over the radio in Barry’s car and told him there was a simple solution to all his problems: all he had to do was kidnap Frank Sinatra, Jr. For the first time ever, Barry Keenan shares his version of the bizarre story in his own words, from beginning to end.

11 Episodes
In 1963, Barry Keenan was broke, alone, and desperate to save his family from personal and financial ruin. In a final “Hail Mary” attempt to set things right, he rolled the dice on an elaborate scheme so bizarre it’s hard to believe it actually happened: He kidnapped Frank Sinatra Jr.  For the first time, Barry Keenan tells his version of the story in his own words, from beginning to end, to host John Stamos.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
A young Barry Keenan becomes obsessed with salvation after an angel appears to him in his mother’s basement. Convinced by the nuns at his Catholic elementary school that he’ll be doomed to an eternity of harsh penance if he doesn’t take drastic action, Barry starts looking for shortcuts to the promised land.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Bestowed by God with a divine prophecy for his salvation, Barry heads to a local bar to brainstorm his kidnapping. Deploying the business strategies he once relied on as a securities trader, he cobbles together what he considers to be an airtight plan: kidnap someone with rich parents, use the ransom money to invest in real estate, and pay everyone back with interest. Nothin’ to it. All he needs is a target, and some seed money to get things moving - both of which, he discovers, are hard to come by.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Having scraped together some cash and settled on Frank Sinatra, Jr. as his target, Barry assembles his rogues gallery of accomplices. In short order, he recruits his mom’s ex-boyfriend (and small-time mafioso) John Irwin, as well as an old friend he used to pull pranks with back in high school, Joe Amsler. But then, something unexpected happens: Barry falls in love with a woman named Pam. He’s certain she’ll dump him when she finds out about the kidnapping scheme, but much to his delight, Pam instead wants in on the caper. With his crew assembled, Barry heads for a state fair in Arizona to stake out Junior’s hotel…See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Junior’s about to head to Europe for a run of concerts, and there’s no way Barry can afford to follow him there. After multiple failed attempts at the kidnapping - not to mention the seismic upheaval of President Kennedy’s assassination - Barry has a dark night of the soul. He resolves to give up on the Plan of Operation, and decides to give the scheme a send-off by drinking a bottle of whiskey. But somewhere towards the bottom of the bottle, Barry realizes he can’t bear to abandon his vision. When he discovers Junior’s making a pit-stop in Lake Tahoe before heading overseas, Barry decides to roll the dice one more time.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
With Junior successfully nabbed at last, Barry and Joe make a death-defying escape from Lake Tahoe in the middle of a blizzard. Junior proves surprisingly compliant - even lending Barry a hand in his attempts to evade the police. Convinced that Junior’s cooperation is evidence of the divine inspiration fueling the Plan of Operation, Barry arrives back in Los Angeles after an all-night road trip feeling exhausted but hopeful...until Junior abruptly stops cooperating and starts playing hardball.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Barry and Pam sneak back into his hotel room in Lake Tahoe to clean up the evidence he mistakenly left behind the previous night. The place is crawling with cops and FBI agents, so Barry and Pam go undercover as honeymooning skiers, and take to the bunny slopes to evade capture. The plan works like a charm. But when Barry gets back to Los Angeles, he’s got a mutiny on his hands. Forced to improvise, Barry re-jiggers his ransom plan on the fly, and before long, he finds himself in a stand-off with the FBI.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
While hiding out at a friend’s house, Barry counts out cash as the plot thickens around him. He’s lost track of his accomplices, and when he switches on the radio, he discovers he’s also lost Frank Sinatra Jr. By the time Barry tracks down John Irwin and Joe Amsler, there are sketches of his face on the front page of the LA Times. Time is running out - but as usual, Barry has a plan. And that plan is: to go Christmas shopping.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Barry makes one last attempt to ride off into the sunset with Pam, but by the time he makes it to her house, she’s got company. And it turns out the FBI’s been listening in on their phone calls. After a series of narrow escapes, Barry finally finds himself handcuffed and brought up on serious charges. And then, just as he’s writing out a confession, the man Barry hoped would be saved by the Plan of Operation (his dad) intervenes to save Barry from the Plan of Operation.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Barry’s trial is an overnight circus, and the evidence against him is overwhelming. But when Junior takes the stand and reveals his compliance with the demands of Barry and his accomplices, the defense team smells an opportunity. Determined to convince the jury that Junior’s kidnapping was engineered by the Sinatra family as a publicity stunt for his concert tour, Barry cooks up a story about a mysterious operative named Wes who put him up to the kidnapping. It’s a bold gambit - and, it turns out, a spectacular failure.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Back on the streets after four and a half years behind bars, Barry gets right back to scheming. Before long, he finds himself rich with casino money, and retires to a farm. But as the years go by, something starts to nag at him: even though the Wes gambit failed at trial, the narrative that Junior plotted his own kidnapping lingers in the popular imagination. Barry longs to tell his side of the story - but what if Frank Sinatra Senior won’t let him?See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Comments (19)


I could listen to John Stamos's voice all day long. Aside from that perk, the podcast overall is very well produced, the story is thoroughly researched and so interesting. It is overall one of the best podcasts I've heard in a long time!!

Sep 15th

Cristina Corales

As well as the ads there is too much repetition.

Aug 18th

Denise Nichols

This is really interesting ! Never heard this guy's story before.I remember the kidnapping.I was only 12 but my family talked about it. can't wait to hear the rest.

Aug 7th


Stamos sounds like soft butter on a stack of pancakes and the story is interesting, however, way, way, way too many ads. 1 25 minute episode with at least 3-4 ad breaks.I am sure they had to write a large check to get John on board but all the ads ruin the story. Maybe have all the ad breaks at the top instead of throughout.

Aug 4th
Reply (1)

Kim B

I was excited to hear a good story that I've never heard about until the host started with his liberal, crazy-ass comments that have NOTHING to do with the story! Keep your personal views out of the story!!!

Jul 30th
Reply (13)
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