LOS ANGELES (CN) — A New Jersey man was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison for pretending to be a former New England Patriots player in order to acquire three 2016 Super Bowl championship rings, purportedly for nephews of quarterback Tom Brady, one of which sold for $337,000 at auction.
Scott Spina Jr., 25, must also pay $63,000 in restitution to a former Patriots players, identified only as T.J. in court filings, who had sold Spina his Super Bowl LI ring and other memorabilia but got paid with a bad check.
Spina, of Roseland, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in February to five counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and identity theft. His attorney had pleaded for a two-year sentence, arguing that Spina had permanently changed his life for the better during time he served in prison for a separate fraud conviction before he was charged in the ring case, and that the chances of him being a recidivist were slim to none.
"Despite the fact that Mr. Spina paid a substantial debt to society by serving a sentence in which the goals of sentencing were achieved, the court must now send him back to prison, not because he was a recidivist and committed a crime subsequent to his release from prison, but for a crime that was committed prior to his arrest in the District of New Jersey but not prosecuted until after his release from his 35-month sentence," his attorney, Thomas Ambrosio, said in a sentencing request.
Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady was the most valuable player of Super Bowl LI, played on Feb. 5, 2017, when the New England team staged the biggest comeback win in Super Bowl history, coming back from 28-3 down to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. The dramatic and historic victory caused a tremendous demand for memorabilia from the game, according to prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Spina was a 19-year-old trader of sports memorabilia in 2017 when T.J. got in touch with him to sell his Super Bowl LI and college football rings. With the Super Bowl ring, Spina also received documents from the ring's manufacturer with T.J.'s user name and password to buy up to three "family rings."
The family rings are identical to player rings but are 10% smaller. Spina got in touch with the manufacturer, pretending to be T.J. and ordered three family rings but asked them to be engraved with Brady's name, so that he could purportedly give them as presents to the quarterback for his relatives.
Spina paid $33,000 for the three rings and sold them to a memorabilia dealer for $100,000. One of the rings was subsequently sold at auction.
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