Would-Be Islanders Buyer Indicted
Dec. 05, 1997
BOSTON (AP) _ The Texas man who was planning to buy the New York Islanders hockey team for $165 million has been indicted on bank fraud charges after failing to show up for a plea hearing earlier this week.
U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern says that John A. Spano Jr., 33, led Fleet National Bank and four other financial institutions to believe that he was a wealthy man, capable of buying the hockey team and sustaining it through a rebuilding period.
He told Fleet representatives that he had inherited millions of dollars and made millions more in investments in South Africa and the United States.
To back up his bogus claims, Stern said Spano offered a financial statement that falsely showed his net worth as $230 million. Authorities said in April of 1997 Spano provided a federal reserve wire transfer number to confirm that he had wired $7.6 million to Fleet to be held in an account as required under this loan agreement.
It turned out the confirmation number was fake, the money was never sent and he did not put up $24.4 million in his own money as promised.
The two-count indictment charges Spano with bank fraud and making false statements. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
A spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney's Office said Spano was expected to plead guilty Monday, but never showed up. He was due in court Friday to answer the latest charges.
Spano's attorney Nick Gravante Jr. of New York did not immediately return a telephone message Friday from The Associated Press.
Spano also had been indicted by federal grand juries in Uniondale, N.Y., as well as Dallas. He backed out of plea bargains in Dallas, where charges carry possible penalties of more than 50 years in prison.
The Islanders say he owes the team about $400,000 he spent after fraudulently assuming ownership.
When Spano failed to make the payments, ownership reverted to John Pickett. On Sept. 12, Steven Gluckstern signed a letter of intent to purchase the Islanders from Pickett for an estimated $195 million.