Con Kid

Jimmy Sabatino, self-described child of the Mafia, displayed a prodigious talent for confidence games even as a teenager. If he hadn't threatened to kill President Clinton, he'd probably be scamming today.

That report begins: "Mr. Sabatino is a twenty-one-year-old ... who hails from a family with alleged ties to the Colombo/Gambino families of the Cosa Nostra. His father reportedly is a captain of the Colombo family who acted as a liaison with the Gambino family."

The evaluation, which drew on documents and affidavits provided by the FBI, as well as arrest data from the National Crime Information Center, remains under court seal. It continues: "According to Mr. Sabatino, from a very early age he became aware that he was treated different than other children. More specifically, others fawned over him and catered to all of his wishes. He soon became aware that this special treatment was accorded to him because his father allegedly held a high position within the Italian-American Mafia. He recalls being fourteen years old and his girlfriend's father asking for favors from him. He also recalled going out to clubs and having people step aside to let him and his cohorts through the crowd. He would always obtain the best seats in the restaurant, and often people would give him money just so that he would speak favorable about them to his father."

Jimmy's father, Peter Sabatino, is the manager of a Bobby Rubino's restaurant in Pompano Beach, part of a Fort Lauderdale-based chain owned by two sons of the late Paul Castellano, the legendary former boss of the Gambino crime family murdered by John Gotti, who succeeded him as boss. A third partner is Frank J. Galgano, grandson of a Gambino captain. (A source with South Florida's Metropolitan Organized Crime Intelligence Unit says Peter Sabatino has "been clean" for at least the past twenty years. Prior to that, no records were available. The elder Sabatino did not respond to a request for an interview.)

"Mr. [Jimmy] Sabatino related a life full of luxury, money, strong family ethics, and immediate gratification," states the court-ordered psychological evaluation. "In fact, he noted how from an early age he became used to immediately obtaining what he desired. If he did not then he would have a 'temper tantrum.' Mr. Sabatino acknowledged having temper tantrums since he was in preschool. As a child Mr. Sabatino either won at every game he played or, if he did not, he would take away the game or stop playing. He also found himself in frequent verbal matches with others which inevitably got him in trouble. He was often expelled from school and his father eventually had to resort to providing the schools with very generous donations and gifts in exchange for tolerating his son's outbursts.

"Mr. Sabatino recalled being twelve years old when he was admitted to the psychiatric ward of [a hospital]," the report continues. "He had been taken to the hospital, he explained, after a week-long temper tantrum during which he kicked and screamed out of anger. (He could not recall what precipitated the anger.)

"At the age of fourteen the defendant was sentenced to juvenile hall for racketeering. At the age of fifteen he was violated [sic] for carrying a gun. As usual, he was granted special privileges even in juvenile hall. 'My father always bailed me out of trouble. I grew up with power and when things didn't go my way I'd blow up. I expect things to go my way. I've been having problems ever since I can remember between having power and having to react to people who would not acknowledge it.'"

Sabatino was arrested in Miami in September 1993. Details of the incident are sealed. More juvenile arrests followed in New Jersey and in Puerto Rico, where he was incarcerated. Those court files are sealed as well.

For most of his professional career, Sabatino operated out of a house in Ocean Ridge, an upscale oceanfront community in Palm Beach County. The house, owned by his uncle, Richard Sabatino, was once a waterfront villa with a four-car garage, expansive windows, a pool, and a hot tub, all with unobstructed ocean views. These days it sits in extreme disrepair, abandoned. The walls have been gutted to the framing. Some windows are broken. Chipped tile dominates the patio, and the pool is empty save for a thick green sludge stewing on the bottom.

That home is at the center of a federal criminal complaint against the uncle. In late 1995 Richard Sabatino pleaded guilty to illegally receiving a shipment of stolen Italian shoes valued at nearly a quarter-million dollars. Two of his accomplices in the shoe caper were also convicted of unrelated crimes: participating in a racketeering conspiracy that included kidnapping, robbery, and the distribution of cocaine and heroin.

A federal judge sentenced Richard to two years incarceration and ordered him to pay more than $200,000 in restitution. In a fresh set of federal charges, filed earlier this year, Richard Sabatino is accused of trying to hide his ownership of the Ocean Ridge house as well as two Bono's rib joints in Palm Beach County, to avoid paying his penalties.

In 1982, as part of an ongoing investigation into organized crime at Manhattan's Fulton Fish Market, Richard Sabatino was charged with a fraudulent scheme to obtain $57,000 worth of fish and lobster from a seafood company in Ramsey, New Jersey. He still lives in Palm Beach County, but could not be located for comment.

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