To friends and family, however, his deftness with scamming represents the tragedy of Jimmy Sabatino. It's no secret he obsesses over attention. He keeps a mental catalog of every newspaper article, magazine piece, and blog post that's ever mentioned him. He has combed Google Books for tomes that carry his name and remembers precisely how he was described in each of the five books. He's almost comically thin-skinned. "I hate how they called me a mobster in that book," he says, referencing The Crime Buff's Guide to the Outlaw Rockies. "I never said I was a mobster." He also beseeched New Times not to publish any drawings of him because "I'm a very serious person. I don't want any fucking cartoons. They're retarded."

"U a fat, broke, white boy who wishes he had industry connects. How it feel to live your whole life being a fake?"

And though Sabatino describes himself as a power broker in American hip-hop, nothing in cyberspace substantiates that claim. Researching the name Jimmy Sabatino only unspools article after article logging his criminal past.

"He's so smart, but he doesn't use his brain very well," cousin Femia recently wept. "I love everything about him; he's funny and kind-hearted. But he likes to be like he's a big deal. He does this because he thinks then people will want to be around him. He wants friends and girls flocking all over him, just so he can get the satisfaction that he's important."

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.

In 2002, while Sabatino was incarcerated in New York's Westchester County Jail, he came into contact with a Bronx woman named Marcilee Vega. She had a dark complexion and straight black hair. Sabatino was in love. "Back then," he says, "she was a real looker." He claims she needed money, and Sabatino knew exactly what to do.

According to a federal complaint that year, he called Nextel representatives nationwide, pretending to be Sony Pictures executive Jack Kindberg (who does exist). Sabatino said he needed phones for an upcoming shoot. Soon Sabatino — who was then just months away from release — put together what he calls his prison "office."

"I had notepads, a chair, and a desk. By 6 a.m., I was making calls, and I was there until dinnertime." Indeed, surveillance videos were entered into evidence depicting Sabatino jabbering on the telephone to God knows who for eight hours per day.

Sabatino somehow obtained an authentic Sony account number and provided Nextel with genuine tax information. Without putting forward a penny, he had Nextel ship more than 1,000 phones to Sony's "corporate office" — which was really a FedEx shop in Manhattan. The phones vanished into the black market, the profits divvied among Sabatino's accomplices, whom, beyond Vega, he'd never met. Over the course of five months, authorities said he'd conned Nextel of more than $3 million, including service charges.

Sabatino barely saw a dime of the profits; he said he did it all just to "see Marcilee smile," according to federal court documents. "Nothing about this crime makes sense," his attorney, Mary Anne Wirth, wrote in a letter to the court, "unless viewed in light of a diagnosed impulse control disorder. He was clearly not motivated by greed." Judge Charles Brieant, who described Sabatino as "extraordinarily intelligent," agreed. "He seems to have acted out of a need for attention," he said. "I have real concern about whether this need will ever go away, and therefore the impulse to commit these crimes."

Sabatino, who was then 27, got 11 more years. His father mourned the sentencing. "I know my son feels as though these are victimless crimes and he never meant to harm anyone," he wrote in a letter. "But he is no longer a small boy acting out, but rather a grown man who has made some terrible mistakes."

But his worst (and strangest) was still ahead — a con that would humiliate one of the nation's most iconic newspapers and abruptly inject Sabatino into hip-hop's greatest drama: the bicoastal music-industry war between Puff Daddy and Tupac Shakur.

In October 2007, Sabatino, who's long posited close ties to Bad Boy Records, sued Sean Combs for an astonishing $20 million in Miami federal court. He claimed that in December 1994, he'd flown Combs' protégé, the Notorious B.I.G., to Miami, where he laid down 17 minutes and 54 seconds of freestyle rapping at South Beach Studios.

Friend Stanley Belot says he recalls meeting Sabatino and Biggie that night. "Sabatino lies all the time, but some of it's true. He did know Biggie. That night, we went back to [Biggie's] suite, and Biggie was smoking blunts." Belot does not, however, remember any freestyle sessions.

In his lawsuit — which he filed acting as his own attorney and which was later dismissed — Sabatino said that he sold the recordings to Combs for an agreed $200,000 but that Combs never ponied up. Then, suddenly, Sabatino entered into evidence what he claimed were FBI reports proving his business ties to Combs and the Notorious B.I.G. At five pages, the documents described Sabatino as a powerful, feared player in hip-hop. Among other claims, they alleged Sabatino was present on November 30, 1994, when Tupac Shakur was shot — but not killed — at a New York recording studio. The records say Sabatino called Tupac "a piece of shit."

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26 comments
efraim_acosta
efraim_acosta

I knew jimmy in Brooklyn back when he was around 15yo, I remember him to be a little scammer back then, I could tell he did it for the right reasons, but it didn't work out for him then. He just put up his front to make friends. I felt bad for the kid but we stopped hanging out with him. I see it escalated from there. SMH

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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