A New Jersey man was sentenced Monday in a Santa Ana courtroom to more than four years in federal prison for cheating a former New England Patriots player to get his 2016 Super Bowl ring and then impersonating the victim to get three more championship rings he sold to an auction house.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter sentenced Scott V. Spina Jr., 25, of Roseland, New Jersey, to 36 months in federal prison. Carter also ordered Spina to pay $63,000 in restitution to the former Patriots player, identified by prosecutors only as T.J.
Spina pleaded guilty Feb. 1 to a count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and a count of aggravated identity theft.
He acquired the coveted ring in 2017 from the player with help from a kited check, prosecutors said.
In the transaction, Spina learned that former players could get more Super Bowl rings, though smaller than the players’ rings, through a program for the relatives and friends of the athletes, prosecutors said.
Spina called the ring manufacturer and pretended to be the victim to order three more rings as gifts for quarterback Tom Brady’s newly born baby, prosecutors said. He then agreed to sell them to an Orange County man, who later backed out of the deal when he grew suspicious of the authenticity of the valuables.
Spina then sold the three rings to an auction house for $100,000, and one of the rings was auctioned off in February 2018 for $337,219, prosecutors said.
Spina’s attorney, Thomas Ambrosio, said in a letter to the judge before sentencing that his client was sentenced to 35 months in federal prison for wire fraud in the case in New Jersey in July 2019. Spina did not know when he struck a deal with prosecutors in New Jersey that he could face charges in Orange County, Ambrosio said.
“If he had known about the California charges when he negotiated his plea offer in the District of New Jersey then he would have tried to resolve his District of New Jersey case and this Central District of California case with a global plea offer,” Ambrosio wrote.
Spina was released from a halfway house in November 2020 and has been a “model of rehabilitation” since then, Ambriosio said.
Spina started up a sports memorabilia and sneakers business when he was 15, his attorney said. The former member of the Patriots was down on his luck when he offered to sell his ring to the defendant, Ambrosio said.
Spina gave the former player $20,000 in cash and bounced a $12,000 check, Ambrosio said.
Spina paid $33,000 for the three Brady rings, his lawyer said. The defendant reasoned that they would be more valuable with the quarterback’s name on them, his attorney said.
Just before Golden Auctions put one of the three rings up for sale online, Brady’s representatives told the company he had nothing to do with the rings and compelled the company to make that clear that Brady did not authorize the making of the rings and had no link to them, Ambrosio said.