Hip-Hop Poseur Jimmy Sabatino Can't Stop Scamming — Even From Prison

Hip-Hop Poseur Jimmy Sabatino Can't Stop Scamming — Even From Prison
Illustration by Robert Hunt

It was near midnight on a Saturday in late August when a thin 25-year-old in a Miami Dolphins cap flexed the platinum chain around his neck, hoisted a two-inch-thick stack of hundred-dollar bills, and giggled at the absurdity of it all. Just two months ago, the young rapper had been eking out an existence at his girlfriend's house off 183rd Street in Miami Gardens, rolling on a line cook's salary. Now, he was lounging in the back of a blue 2014 Jeep Laredo cruising south at 75 miles per hour toward Miami Beach. In the vehicle's front seat, drenched in more bling than Lil Wayne, sat his benefactor: Jimmy Sabatino.

He said he'd launched the meteoric careers of Puff Daddy, Mark Wahlberg, the Notorious B.I.G., and Method Man.

Thomas Troop had just met Sabatino in July, but they'd hung every day since. Sabatino said Troop was going to be the next Puff Daddy. Sabatino said Troop was the man. Stick with me, Sabatino told Troop, and you're going places. Over two solid months, everything Troop wanted to hear — that his rhymes had silky flow, that he wasn't just another punk kid from the projects — Sabatino affirmed. And Troop believed him. Every last damned word.

"We swaggin'," Troop deadpanned into his iPhone's camera, closely scrutinizing the thousands of dollars in his hands. "We crossin' bridges y'all niggas don't even see. Right now, I'm riding with the big homie. He's gonna pull out a couple stacks."

It took Jimmy Sabatino only four months to work his way back to prison, scamming tony South Beach hotels like this one.
Courtesy of Baby T
It took Jimmy Sabatino only four months to work his way back to prison, scamming tony South Beach hotels like this one.
His most recent mug shot in a life full of them.
Miami-Dade Corrections
His most recent mug shot in a life full of them.

"Wanna see the baby one or the big one?" Sabatino slurred over the din of a blaring hip-hop song, brandishing a tightly wound wad of hundred-dollar bills. "This is the big one right here." Sabatino, wearing a diamond-encrusted pinkie ring and watch, began to flip through the hundreds like a card dealer. "It's all hundreds!" he erupted in a Brooklyn accent. "It's all hundreds! No frontin' over here. It's all hundreds! We gettin' money. This is Troop. And you already know who the fuck I am."

When the men arrived at the Hilton Bentley in South Beach, sinking into the splendor of Sabatino's suite overlooking the ocean, Troop had no reason to suspect anything was amiss. Sure, Sabatino wasn't much to look at: He was only five-foot-six, weighed 360 pounds, and couldn't do much without wheezing. But he presented himself as a major player in the music industry. He said he'd launched the meteoric careers of Puff Daddy, Mark Wahlberg, the Notorious B.I.G., and Method Man. And now he said he wanted to do the same for Troop.

Later, a pair of black-haired escorts from Clearwater arrived, stripped to their thongs, and gyrated against the men. Troop looked at Sabatino. He was popping bottle after bottle of Cristal Champagne, clutching one in each hand. Man, Troop thought, Sabatino's living large. All of this has to be real.

But of course, it wasn't. For 36-year-old Jimmy Sabatino, who police say conned his way into the hotel by masquerading as a Sony executive, the opulence of the night was just the latest scam in a lifetime teeming with them. He's fond of saying that he made his first million by the time he was 16, and that isn't far from the truth. What Tom Ford is to high fashion or Jonathan Franzen is to story craft, Jimmy Sabatino is to conning. His scams bear an artist's touch.

At age 18, he pocketed $235,800 selling stolen Super Bowl tickets. Within years, he was also scamming some of the toniest hotels from Miami to New York of hundreds of thousands' worth of suites and fine dining. Seven years later, while working the phones in federal prison, he bamboozled more than $1 million worth of cell phones out of Nextel. Then, in 2008, he brought the Los Angeles Times to its knees when he fed the paper fake FBI documents — which it printed — linking him to a 1994 assassination attempt on Tupac Shakur.

The most remarkable aspect of Sabatino's scams, however, isn't the profit. It's his methodology. With no proof beyond his word, Sabatino asks for incredible things — and gets them. "The easiest scam to pull off," Sabatino recently told New Times in his first public interview to date, "is tell someone something they already wanted to believe."

No one wants to believe his cons more than Jimmy Sabatino. He desperately — obsessively — wants to be a big shot. It's all he thinks about. All he talks about. All he cares about. The lights of fame, the sheen of success, the millions. He'd do anything for that life.

But today, that dream is further away than at any time in Sabatino's criminal career. In late September, only four months out of prison, he was arrested on charges of conning more hotels. That part doesn't bother him, he says. What does, however, is the cops' final allegation. Miami Beach Police say he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and kept pictures of her nude on his phone — a crime in Florida.

Sabatino doesn't mind saying he's a criminal, but a sex offender? He mulls the allegation day and night, sifting for holes in the state's case, but even South Florida's most notorious con man may not be able to talk his way out of this one.


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25 comments
SoFla
SoFla

Didnt this kid get punked in jail in Passaic County and isnt his father "Fat Pete" a South Florida rat? These two are a joke

SoFla
SoFla

Waste of time writing about a jailhouse snitch who got punked in Passaic County jail and whos father is a South Florida rat !!! Good ole "fat pete" the familys a joke lets get real and erase these punks from the internet> 

tiredofthebull
tiredofthebull

this kid is from a family of rats his fathers in south florida 25 years a purported mafia big wig. A big rat in the 25 years hes been in south florida he's never had so much as a tap on the shoulder from any law enforcement agency despite being in the middle of many mob related events. Not to mention his right hand man Reynold Maragni who he ran around with for several years became a rat and not so much as a glance was thrown his way. Its a joke and its quite obvious the mans an informant

someguyontheinternet
someguyontheinternet

Interesting article. But I think Philips is misspelled, it only has one l. I also would like some insight as to why the whole thing happened. It occurs to me that If Henchman had a heads up on Philips story as Philips said in the Voice article,he gave Henchman in order to comment, then Henchman could have had the guys who did the hit type up a document with enough details that he had heard many times to set Philips. In this scenario, they'd have  up by having Sabatino call with Philips about documents. Sabatino had a credible history of providing documents for a lawsuit in which Sabatino was a plaintiff previously. Or Dexter and company could have written the document to shake down Henchman, who then saw it as an opportunity to screw up Philips story. (Philips gave Henchman a chance to comment on the article pre-publication) so he said in the Voice article. The Miami Times article is interesting but seems to be silent on the why of the whole thing - any thoughts?


frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..........................and all this matters how ?

actually one issue is lack of security at south beach hotels IF they do not know the real identity of their "guests" then how could ANY visitor feel secure in that hotel ?

how does someone order $100,000 of champagne without the hotel arranging and securing proper payment ? ...............where is management ? ........................where are the appropriate accounting and internal control functions ?....................maybe the whole place is a scam

otherwise, ANYONE can think these things up,  just that most don't want to waste away in prison for years just for a few party nights trying to prove to be someone they are not - who cares - a week from today this guy will be totally forgotten about

Francisco Soler
Francisco Soler

Your stories are so entertaining! You guys should partner up with Michael Bay for the long term....

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

"It took Jimmy Sabatino only four months to work his way back to prison, scamming tony South Beach hotels like this one."

LOL, not that I condone scamming per se, but South Beach hotels and other establishments hardly rate sympathy for what they charge anyone that becomes a victim in that community ?

WhyNotNow
WhyNotNow topcommenter

There is no 183 avenue. A typo, but please fix it. Show you care about the reader. Thank you.

adolfojherrera
adolfojherrera

Who the hell cares? This is just another slug from an infestation of slugs in this city. Line him up next to every member of the L.B.A., every member of the county commission, and Miami city commission, George Perez, and all the other con artists and crooks in this friggin swamp and light them on fire. Miami's only hope is a two mile high tsunami. Maybe whomever tries again may do it right and not let this third world shantytown proliferate.

Monica Matteo-Salinas
Monica Matteo-Salinas

I feel sorry for him, in a way. Probably blames himself for his mom's abandonment. Therapy would do him good.

Bill Cooke
Bill Cooke

...and now he's going back to prison for long time.

Hugh
Hugh

The reporter needs to learn his northwest Miami-Dade geography.  NW 183rd Avenue in the beginning of the article is about 90 blocks west of Miami Lakes if there was development out that far.  In the latter part of the article it states NW 183rd Street "in Miami Lakes" in another stupid mistake because it's at least 13 blocks north of the western side of Miami Lakes and 16 blocks north of the east side of Miami Lakes.  Carol City is closer to the area than Miami Lakes so one could call it "Carol City West."

Stan
Stan

This guy is a relative dope and managed to pull this off...imagine how much crap Wall Street and the gov't are getting away with.

DavidDennis
DavidDennis

Wow, New Times reporting is really first-class nowadays.  Great story!

Cathy
Cathy

Terry, great job. What a tale. 

Louis Wing
Louis Wing

WOW - that guy is good. He uses it for all the wrong reasons, but he's good.

chuck.strouse
chuck.strouse moderator editor

@Hugh We fixed and will correct in print. Sorry for the error.

Rational
Rational

AND WHOOO THE EFF CARES....JESUS......

HughJar
HughJar

@Rational   If the reporter makes stupid mistakes like where the kid lived then who knows how many more mistakes he made in the rest of article.  Maybe an a-hole like you doesn't care but some of us do.

 

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