SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge Tuesday sentenced Silicon Valley financier William "Boots" Del Biaggio III to more than eight years in prison for bilking investors and banks -- including one he helped launch -- out of millions of dollars in a desperate attempt to buy a pro hockey team.
The disgraced scion of a prominent San Jose family is to report to prison in January, capping a long fall for a former high roller who counted hockey great Mario Lemieux as a golfing buddy and who jetted on private planes to Las Vegas, where he amassed a $4-million gambling debt.
Del Biaggio pleaded guilty to one charge of forging financial documents to obtain $110 million in loans from several banks and two National Hockey League team owners -- Craig Leopold of the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings owner AEG. Del Biaggio used the money to purchase a controlling interest in the Nashville Predators.
Del Biaggio set his crime in motion by turning to David Cacchione, a financially strapped stockbroker at Merriman Curhan Ford Group Inc. who owed him $2 million. According to federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cacchione e-mailed Del Biaggio account statements from several wealthy Merriman clients showing tens of millions of dollars' worth of stock holdings.