CLEVELAND (AP) A man who once conned the National Hockey League into thinking he was a wealthy entrepreneur well-qualified to buy one of the league's most storied franchises has been convicted of another scam.
John Spano Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to 16 counts of forgery for what authorities say was a scheme that saw him collect nearly $70,000 in sales commissions on fraudulent accounts he created. The 50-year-old Spano faces as many as 16 years in prison when sentenced in a Lake County courtroom next month. He remains free on bond. His attorney did not return telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Spano, who lives with his parents in Grand River, a village about 30 miles east of Cleveland, became infamous after he agreed to buy the New York Islanders in 1996 for $165 million. The NHL vetted Spano, who presented himself as a Texas businessman worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and approved the sale. He convinced banks to lend him $80 million for the purchase. But months after being hailed as a hero by Islanders fans, his con was revealed when he failed to pay a relatively modest down payment of $5 million.