A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring with a jailed mob figure to con former Long Island congressman John LeBoutillier out of $90,000 with phony promises of help in his efforts to locate missing Vietnam-era POWs in Eastern Europe.
Charles Guiga, 38, said that he conspired with imprisoned Colombo family capo Frank Sparaco to convince LeBoutillier that Sparaco had made contact in prison with Russian mobsters who could corroborate LeBoutillier's long-held theory that missing POWs had been spirited out of Southeast Asia.
LeBoutillier, 56, of Old Westbury, represented a Nassau County district in Congress from 1981 to 1983. The conservative has since become a commentator.
"I am obviously disappointed in being ripped off," LeBoutillier said Thursday. "My goal is the same - getting information on American POWs still in Russia - but this is a major setback."
Sparaco, 54, who had been talking to LeBoutillier about the POW issue for several years, has not been charged.
Prosecutors declined to discuss his status or comment on published reports that he has become a cooperating witness in major cases the government is building against the Colombo family. He was imprisoned at a federal penitentiary in Ohio in January and is now listed as "in transit" by the Bureau of Prisons. His sentence runs through 2014.
Guiga, who said he passed along phony letters to LeBoutillier and collected money, faces a maximum of 20 years. Sentencing guidelines call for him to spend 6 to 12 months in prison. His lawyer, Matthew Mari, has described Sparaco as a landlord for Guiga's family while he was growing up.
"Frank Sparaco is a dastardly demon who used his young friend who idolized him to cheat an old friend who trusted him," Mari said.