In 2013, New Times called Jimmy Sabatino Florida's "most notorious con man." For a con man, the word "notorious" basically means "has been caught a bunch of times," so we'll refrain from calling the 39-year-old "talented" — but damn if he isn't persistent.
Case in point: Federal authorities said yesterday that Sabatino has once again been caught posing as a Sony record executive from prison in order to steal valuable property from people. That's the same ruse that allowed Sabatino to build and blow several ill-gotten fortunes in the past.
A rotund man with crooked brown eyes, Sabatino, whose father may have worked as a "liaison" to New York's Gambino crime family, seems to be interested only in one line of work: lying to people to get what he wants.
Between the ages of 16 and 22, Sabtino pretended to be the nephew of Sony Music President Tommy Mottola and stole $60,000 in laptop computers from the Mac Warehouse, as well as $16,000 in rooms and services from New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, $20,000 from the Marriott Marquis, and $16,000 from the Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles.
In 2002, while serving a 51-month prison sentence for threatening to blow up the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse, Sabatino set up what he called a "prison office," where he conned people into believing he was a Sony record executive in order to steal 1,000 cell phones and sell them on the black market. He also convinced Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Phillips that he somehow was related to the 1994 murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.
Yesterday federal authorities said they caught Sabatino, yet again, posing as a record executive from prison in order to execute a classic Sabatino-style scam.
Sabatino is serving a five-year sentence for bilking South Beach hotels out of more than $600,000. But prosecutors say that inside Miami's Federal Detention Center, Sabatino, in tandem with an inmate from Davie named George Duquen, 53, created a series of fake email addresses and used them to pose as executives at Sony Music Entertainment and Jay Z's record label, Roc Nation.
Using the alias "James Prolima," authorities say, Sabatino conned luxury store employees and brand representatives into sending "retail items such as handbags, wristwatches, apparel, and jewelry to various locations in South Florida. Sabatino claimed the retail items would be featured in music videos and promotional materials that were being filmed and produced in Miami, Florida."
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Authorities say Sabatino then directed two women — Valerie Kay Hunt, 53, and Denise Siksha Lewis, 35 — to sell the items at pawnshops around South Florida.
Sabatino has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud.
A previous Sabatino victim, Thomas Troop, who was conned into thinking Sabatino could get him a record deal, summed up Sabatino's existence pretty perfectly:
"U a nobody playing a somebody," Troop texted Sabatino in 2013. "U a fat, broke, white boy who wishes he had industry connects."