Police arrest man in hotel scam
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) -- A man has been arrested and charged after being accused of ripping off several high-end hotels across South Florida.
Gabriel Castrillon, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency in Coral Gables, said his staff called police last Friday, a few minutes after 36-year-old James Sabatino arrived at the hotel. Castrillon said Sabatino checked into the hotel at around 2 a.m. with friends and requested several rooms, including the presidential suite. "He was using these names of well-known corporations," said Castrillon.
Sabatino matched the description on a bulletin that the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association had sent out to hotels in the area.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Sabatino inside a room with a 17-year-old girl, who told police the two were having sex. "We contacted the police department, and they were here within 20 minutes," said Castrillon.
The Hyatt Regency in Coral Gables was not the only hotel that was targeted. Police said Sabatino was checking into South Florida hotels posing as a Sony and Viacom executive, staying for days and weeks. "This individual that was arrested, Mr. Sabatino, racked up a total of almost $250,000 in charges between the room, expenses, the room itself, bottles of Champagne, in the amount of $100,000 that he had ordered," said Miami Beach Police Sergeant Bobby Hernandez.
In one case, Miami Beach Police said Sabatino stayed at the Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach on Ocean Drive for five weeks.
Police said Sabatino also targeted the Hilton hotel on 16th Street and Biscayne Boulevard and charged $300,000, along with the SLS Hotel on 17th Street and Collins Avenue for $16,000.
Police say Sabatino has ties to a mob family in New York. "His father was apparently a captain in the Gambino crime family, and his uncle was also a member of that crime family," said Hernandez
Sabatino, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, has had several run-ins with the law including stealing and reselling 262 Super Bowl XXIX tickets in South Florida, in 1999.
Police said Sabatino has also faced hotel theft charges both in New York and London. He has been charged with unlawful sex with a minor, organized fraud over $50,000 and grand theft.
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