Work in Sports
Spano faces six years in prison for bank and wire fraud
Posted: Saturday January 29, 2000 01:27 PM
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Three years after he tried to buy the New York Islanders in a con scheme, John Spano stood gaunt and unshaven in a Long Island courtroom where he was sentenced to six years in prison.
Spano, a former businessman from Dallas, apologized before U.S. District Judge Thomas Platt handed down his sentence Friday. Spano could be eligible for parole in 30 months; he faced a possible sentence of 87 months, and received 71 months for bank and wire fraud charges.
"The John Spano of today is different from the man who made these offenses," said Spano's attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr. "He realizes he did some very foolish things."
That includes agreeing to pay then-Islanders owner John Pickett $165 million for the National Hockey League team when his net worth was only $2 million, and persuading Fleet Bank to lend him $80 million.
After pleading guilty in October 1997, Spano's life "came apart all at once," his lawyer said.
His wife divorced him and sold their Dallas home. He moved into a condominium in Philadelphia where he developed a drug addiction and tried to pay his rent with a bad credit card, checks and wire transfers.
His $3 million bail was revoked because of continued criminal conduct, and Spano spent the last year in two federal prison facilities.
The judge ordered Spano to pay back $11.9 million.
Pickett sold the team to New York Sports Ventures, a group led by Howard Milstein, for $195 million. Milstein recently agreed to sell the team to an investment group for $180 million. The deal is pending.