MIAMI — Florence, Colorado’s infamous “Supermax” penitentiary houses the worst criminals the country has to offer: Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski. Traitor spy Robert Hanssen. Zacarias Moussaoui of the 9/11 attacks.
The latest addition to this veritable legion of doom? Florida conman Jimmy Sabatino.
Sabatino was sentenced Monday by federal Judge Joan Lenard to 20 years in solitary confinement after he told the judge that the only way to truly put a stop to his felonious capers is to cut off his access to the outside world.
The trial—the latest in a long line for the 41-year-old Sabatino—was for masterminding a $10 million fraud whereby the conman called luxury retailers from cell phones smuggled into his jail cell and convinced them to send him valuable jewelry and watches that he would feature in music videos and other films shot in and around Miami.
Of course, Sabatino represented no such actual endeavors, but successfully directed the items to his Gambino crime family accomplices and others on the outside to fence and pawn. A portion of the profits went to Sabatino’s commissary account at the prison.
The silver-tongued con artist even managed to rope in a couple of corrections officers, whom he talked into providing the 5 cell phones that he used. (The crooked officers have since been fired.)
Lest Sabatino’s admission that he needed to be locked away to protect society from himself be mistaken for contrition, the career criminal stated prior to sentencing: “I don’t apologize to nobody.”
“As far as the government is concerned, they allowed this case to happen … they should be embarrassed,” he went on.
In addition to the rigid sentencing—which would restrict Sabatino from letters and phone calls and allow him contact only with his attorney and his stepmother going forward—the conman was directed to repay the businesses he’d swindled. The victims included such big names as Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Piaget watches.
Sabatino has a long history of running similar scams, dating back to his posing as a Coca Cola executive to get hotel rooms when he was just 17 years old. His primary targets through his career have been hotels, and as recently as 2014 he scammed $600,000 worth of rooms and goods from Miami hotels while pretending to be a bigshot with a music label.
For all his wit and ingenuity, there’s one skill Sabatino has failed to master in his criminal endeavors: not getting caught. He’s been in and out of prisons in both the U.S. and the U.K. his entire adult life, typically offending again immediately whenever released.
Prison has been a minor inconvenience for Sabatino. On a prior stint, he successfully defrauded a phone company out of $3 million from his jail cell.
Time will tell if the Supermax is up to the task of curtailing his activities.