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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frankd4 topcommenter

...........................................basically it's a story of the lack of SECURITY at these hotels who don't know who their guests are

Kimber Kirton
Kimber Kirton

You're giving this creep the attention he wants, bravo. He is not worth my time, especially seven pages worth of my time.