Miami's Most Notorious Con Man Busted Stealing Hotel Room to Have Sex With a Minor

Categories: Crime

via Miami Dade Corrections
James Sabatino
For a world-class con man, James Sabatino has a habit of burning out in blazes of self-inflicted pain. As a teenager, he pulled off an incredible run of schemes, including getting close to Julio Iglasias by posing as a Sony Music executive and wrangling more than 200 Super Bowl tickets from the Dolphins by imitating a Blockbuster president. But then he called in violent threats to President Bill Clinton, and the Secret Service swooped in.

Last weekend, Sabatino pulled one of his classic cons: snagging luxury hotel rooms under the name of a big corporation. But this time, the hotel recognized him and called the cops. And when they arrived, they found Sabatino having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

See also: Con Kid: Jimmy Sabatino displayed a talent for confidence games. If he hadn't threatened to kill the president, he'd still be scamming.

Sabatino was busted around 2 a.m. last Friday when he and a group of friends, using the name of corporate clients, checked into the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables and demanded the presidential suite.

But a manager recognized Sabatino from a bulletin sent by the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and called the police. When they arrived, they found the 36-year-old with a 17-year-old girl, who told officers they were having sex.

The bust didn't come quickly enough to help his previous target, though. Police say Sabatino spent five weeks at the Hilton Miami Beach beginning in August after convincing the hotel he was staying on the Sony Music corporate account. He racked up a balance of $174,000 in that time, including a mind-boggling $100,000 for champagne.

That kind of a scheme should be all too familiar to Miami hotels. A New Times profile in 1999 by writer Robert Andrew Powell tells Sabatino's incredible backstory: His father was a captain in the Colombo crime family and a liaison with the Gambino clan.

The always-hefty Sabatino started smooth-talking and conning his way to millions of dollars as a teenager. His most infamous crime came in 1995, when he talked the Dolphins out of 262 Super Bowl tickets by posing as a Blockbuster exec; he later resold them for more than $200,000.

By the time he was 22, authorities say, he'd scammed millions in profit and free hotel rooms and services, usually with nothing more than his guile and slick talking.

"He's like Tony Curtis in The Great Impostor," Thomas Hays, a Hollywood studio exec, told New Times in 1999. "He's so ballsy, it's almost like a challenge for him. In the movie, Curtis posed as a doctor or a professor; it was an obsession to him to be someone else. This Sabatino kid is the same way. He's crafty."

But Sabatino had a habit of blowing his exploits. In 2000, he earned four years in the federal pen for bizarrely threatening Bill Clinton and then promising to kill the prosecutors and judges handling his case.

"He thinks he's smarter than everybody in the world, and truthfully he is," a security consultant told New Times in the 1999 profile. "I guess he makes mistakes too."

He might not be able to wriggle out of this case. Sabatino now faces charges of unlawful sex with a minor, grand theft, and organized fraud.

(H/T to Random Pixels)

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21 comments
tiggy
tiggy

"World class conman"? don't make me laugh, he is the conman equivalent of the Nigerian "millionaire" email, relying on the greed and stupidity of the unthinking, as many previous commentators have noted, simple, applied commonsense would have tripped this dope up at the first hurdle.


Personally I had to deal with him calling to book a limo on the Sony corporate account, claiming he was James Andrews, having been if federal prison for the last 14 years,(he just got out in June this year), the confidence genius probably wasn't aware of caller I.D. which showed his real name, a simple google search for "Sabatino Sony" brought up a slew of results about his previous exploits.


He did, however manage to book limos with other companies, which he actually paid for by selling bottles of high end Champagne out of the trunk of the limo, lol.


Incidentally, I sent an email to a New Times staff writer 3 weeks ago, saying the Jimmy "ConKid" Sabatino was back in town and up to his old tricks, guess you missed a scoop there sparky :)

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Can't imagine who would allow themselves to be conned/duped by this individual ? Maybe forced, but conned/duped ? That's a stretch.

Rabeeta
Rabeeta

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internetinternet
internetinternet

Read the reviews for select Miami Beach hotels and clubs.  Majority don't come here for the art museums. 

cour71
cour71

That 17 yr was either a runaway, on drugs or both because DAMN that's nasty

San Tiago
San Tiago

This guy is so cute. Look how his lazy eye is so bashful.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

............................does anyone here think maybe the front desk personnel are either in on it or really dumb ?  maybe hotel management should reconsider the requirements and skill level for their front desk people - oh wait,  that would mean paying more than minimum wage - fugedaboudit

Michelle Oney
Michelle Oney

^^^ *yawn* That's getting old chief. Dig a little deeper why don'tcha?

Ana Campos
Ana Campos

What is going on in the hotel industry? I'll give the Hyatt Regency a thumbs up but these other hotels have no one to blame but themselves. "Oh you are a Sony executive? Can I see your 'employee' ID? Maybe your company card? How about at least a business card? Nothing? OK you can have the Presidential Suite for the next 6 months so sorry we bothered you. "

AnaCampos
AnaCampos

What is going on in the hotel industry? I'll give the Hyatt Regency a thumbs up but these other hotels have no one to blame but themselves. 

"Oh you are a Sony executive? Can I see your 'employee' ID? Maybe your company card? How about at least a business card? Nothing? OK you can have the Presidential Suite for the next 6 months so sorry we bothered you. "


jpeezyfacebook
jpeezyfacebook

@Ana Campos I doubt it was just slick talking. Maybe he had "papers" or he bribed the employees at the front desk.

AnaCampos
AnaCampos

@jpeezyfacebook

This quote is where I drew my conclusion from: "usually with nothing more than his guile and slick talking". Because he has conned hotels for years he was a proficient BS master. I can't imagine it was just the hotel front desk employees. I would think they would have had to clue in a manager too for some sort of approval. 

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