A New Jersey man admitted to posing as a New England Patriots player to illegally intercept and sell three Super Bowl rings engraved with Tom Brady’s last name, federal prosecutors said.
Scott V. Spina Jr., 24, of Roseland, potentially faces decades in prison when he’s sentenced in May after pleading guilty Tuesday in California federal court to mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Prosecutors announced charges against Spina in December, alleging he posed as a former Patriots player to purchase family and friend versions of the team’s Super Bowl LI ring. New England beat Atlanta 34-28 in overtime on Feb. 5, 2017, following the 2016 season.
One of the rings, which were fraudulently offered up by Spina as gifts to Brady’s relatives, later sold at an auction for more than $337,000, prosecutors said.
Spina’s scheme started in 2017 when he bought a Super Bowl LI ring from a former Patriots player whom he bilked with at least one bad check. He then sold the ring for $63,000 to a well-known sports memorabilia broker in California, court documents show.
Spina then learned that former players can buy slightly smaller Super Bowl rings for family and friends. Prosecutors said he proceeded to order three such rings. While on calls with the ring manufacturer, he pretended to be a former Patriots player identified in court documents as “J.T.,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Prosecutors said Spina informed the manufacturer the rings — supposed gifts for Brady’s family, including his son — were to be engraved with “Brady” on each one.
But the rings, which Spina sought to sell at a substantial profit, were never authorized by Brady, federal prosecutors said. Brady, 44, retired from the NFL on Tuesday after 22 seasons and a record seven Super Bowl wins, six of which came during his tenure in New England.
Spina then entered an agreement with the Orange County memorabilia dealer who bought the Super Bowl ring to sell him the family rings for $81,500 — or nearly three times what the New Jersey man paid for them.
The Orange County man later wired Spina $6,500 as a deposit, the Los Angeles Times reported. Spina then sent a photo of the rings to the collector in November 2017, but the broker noticed geolocation data on the rings showed New Jersey rather than Massachusetts, where the Patriots are based, the Times reported.
The collector also believed Brady didn’t have nephews and asked to cancel the deal with Spina, who in turn, sold the three rings to an auction house for $100,000. One of them sold in February 2018 for $337,219, federal prosecutors said.
Spina’s attorney, Thomas Ambrosio, said his client accepts responsibility for his actions, but declined further comment, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Spina, who appeared virtually in Los Angeles federal court, faces a mandatory minimum of 24 months in prison when he’s sentenced on May 23. He must also pay restitution to his victims, including the former Patriots player.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office declined to indicate what led to the probe into Spina. The three bogus Brady family and friends rings, meanwhile, remain at the auction house, the Los Angeles Times reported.