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John Spano, the convicted confidence man who almost succeeded in taking over the New York Islanders, is back in a familiar place - federal prison.

Spano, who spent more than five years in prison for fraud in connection with the Islanders scam, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland to 51 months for a separate fraud scheme he began operating several months after he was released on the Long Island case, according to officials.

A tearful Spano asked that he not be sentenced to prison, said he thought of his latest victims everyday and regretted the grief he had caused his family, said Insp. Steven Bolz, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lynch, when asked yesterday what he thought was Spano's motivation for getting involved in another fraud scheme so soon after serving his Islander sentence, said, "Just plain greed. ... [He thinks he is] just better than anyone else and can get away with it."

Spano's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Spano, who pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud, also was ordered to repay $293,000 to the 39 firms he is accused of victimizing around the country in his latest confidence scheme, officials said. But officials doubt the victims will ever receive any of the money because Spano has no resources and owes millions of dollars in restitution in the Islander case.

Operating from an office in the Cleveland suburb of Westlake when he was released from prison, Spano charged firms a fee for purchasing machinery that he would supposedly lease to them. But he pocketed the fee instead of buying the machinery, officials said.

One of Spano's victims in the Cleveland scheme said she became suspicious of his activities when she found a "John Spano" had been convicted in the Islanders case, only to have him tell her that he was always getting mistaken for that John Spano.

"He's the cleverest, sneakiest guy," said the victim, Sandra Beard, president of Badger Lighting and Signs in Waukesha, Wis., at the time of Spano's arrest in February 2005.

Spano controlled the Islanders for several months in 1997 by using forged documents to indicate that he had the ability to purchase the team for $165 million, but actually used team money for his own expenses.

At his sentencing in the Islanders case in 2000, Spano said, "I'm sorry for the people of Long Island who believed I was going to do something for the team."
One of the many "great" owners the Islanders had in the late 90's. Hard to believe but the Islanders a few years ago were run almost like a Eastern European soccer team, since Wang came in its been a little better. Spano is jail, oh well, hope he has fun there :veiled:
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