When the Recent England Patriots roared back from a 28-3 deficit to stun the Atlanta Falcons in additional time within the Super Bowl in 2017, it set off a frenzy amongst fans and collectors for memorabilia from the championship game.
Perhaps no item was more prized than the Patriots’ glittering Super Bowl ring, encrusted with five Lombardi trophies manufactured from diamonds, symbolizing the variety of championships the team had won, and engraved inside with the words “GREATEST COMEBACK EVER.”
In keeping with prosecutors, a Recent Jersey man cheated a former Patriots player of his ring from that championship game after which posed as that player to order three more engraved with the name Brady, falsely claiming they were gifts for Tom Brady’s “baby.”
Mr. Brady didn’t have a baby on the time.
Certainly one of the rings was later sold at auction for greater than $337,000.
The person, Scott V. Spina Jr., 25, of Roseland, N.J., was sentenced on Monday to a few years in federal prison and ordered to pay $63,000 in restitution to the previous Patriots player who had agreed to sell him his ring and other memorabilia, prosecutors said. The player was identified by prosecutors in court papers only as “T.J.”
Mr. Spina had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in February to 1 count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“He accepts responsibility for his actions,” his lawyer, Thomas Ambrosio, said Tuesday. “He’s disillusioned within the proven fact that he has to return to prison.”
In 2018, when Mr. Spina was 20, he was sentenced to 35 months in federal prison for committing wire fraud in an unrelated scheme related to his business selling high-end sneakers, which he began when he was a teen, Mr. Ambrosio said. Since then, Mr. Spina had “done all the things expected of him to rehabilitate himself and be a law-abiding citizen,” Mr. Ambrosio said.
“There are other white-collar crimes committed by those that get far more lenient sentencing,” Mr. Ambrosio said. “He fully expects to place this behind him as quickly as possible.”
The Super Bowl ring scheme began in September 2017, when Mr. Spina told T.J., the Patriots’ player, on Instagram that he would buy his championship ring and 7 college football rings for $32,000 or a percentage of the proceeds from their sale at auction, prosecutors said.
Mr. Spina met the player at a gas station in Jesup, Ga., and gave him a check for the rings, knowing he didn’t manage to pay for to cover the quantity, prosecutors said. Mr. Spina then sold the rings for $63,000 to a widely known broker of championship rings in Orange County, Calif., prosecutors said.
When Mr. Spina got the Super Bowl ring from T.J., he also obtained paperwork from the ring manufacturer with a login and password that allowed players to order championship rings for his or her family and friends. Those rings were barely smaller versions of those given to the players themselves, but otherwise very similar in appearance, prosecutors said.
Mr. Spina called the ring company, posing as T.J., and said he desired to order three rings as a gift for Mr. Brady’s “baby,” prosecutors said. Mr. Brady has three children however the youngest would have been almost five years old on the time. A representative for Mr. Brady and his current team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, didn’t immediately reply to messages on Tuesday.
On the phone with a hoop company representative, Mr. Spina spelled the name “Brady” for the inscription, and was told the price can be just below $31,800, prosecutors said. Mr. Spina mailed a check to the corporate, which sent the three rings inscribed with the Brady name to Mr. Spina’s address in Recent Jersey in November 2017.
By that point, Mr. Spina had already contacted the Orange County ring broker again and claimed that he had a cope with three of Mr. Brady’s nephews in Massachusetts to purchase their championship rings, which Mr. Brady was giving them as presents on Thanksgiving, prosecutors said.
The broker agreed to purchase the rings for $81,500, prosecutors said.
But as he was preparing to fly to Recent Jersey to choose up the rings, the broker became concerned that Mr. Brady didn’t even have nephews and tried to back out of the deal, prosecutors said.
Mr. Spina then sold the rings to an auction house for $100,000, prosecutors said. In February 2018, the auction house sold certainly one of the rings to an unnamed buyer for $337,219, prosecutors said.
The authentic, original rings are undoubtedly invaluable. In 2020, the owner of the Recent England Patriots, Robert K. Kraft, auctioned his championship ring from the Super Bowl in 2017 for greater than $1 million, with the proceeds going to charity. And his ring from the Super Bowl in 2005 reportedly ended up within the possession of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, when he handed it to Mr. Putin during a business trip. Mr. Putin placed on the ring and kept it, Mr. Kraft has said.
Mr. Spina admitted in his plea agreement that he defrauded the Orange County ring broker when he falsely claimed that the rings he had “were ordered for Tom Brady directly” and that they were “for select members of the family,” prosecutors said.
“The rings,” prosecutors wrote in court documents, “were at no time authorized by Tom Brady.”