CLIFFVIEW PILOT SCOOP: A headline-making accused hospital scammer is at it again — this time for a six-day stay under an assumed name at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he remained in the custody of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office this morning.
Alerted by HUMC officials, a Hackensack detective walked into 45-year-old Nicholas Spampanato’s room last night, called him by his real name, and he responded, Detective Capt. Thomas Salcedo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
“He’s done this elsewhere,” Salcedo said. “He comes up with a fake diagnosis and checks himself in under other people’s names.”
Authorities have compared Spampanato to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film “Catch Me if You Can.”
A Brooklyn native, he has cost hospitals in New Jersey and New York tens of thousands of dollars in treatments, authorities said. Besides the new Hackensack charges, he is also wanted for similar offenses in Morris County, records show.
He first made the news in 2010, when he was charged after a bogus 17-day stay at New York Presbyterian Hospital, ringing up a $67,000 bill to treat pancreatic cancer that he didn’t have.
Prosecutors didn’t bring an indictment in time, however, and Spampanato walked away free.
Similar scams were alleged at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville – where Spampanato was charged with the theft of $85,000 in services — and at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, which chose not to press charges.
In those cases, Spampanto posed as an heir to the family that operates New York’s well-known D’Agostino supermarkets and promised million-dollar donations, authorities said.
NYPD sources told the New York Post that he also was arrested in 2003 after trying to avoid livery-cab fare by telling the driver who picked him up at New York Methodist that he was a police officer.
Spampanato has been at HUMC in Hackensack since March 16 for treatment of what under federal regulations must remain an undisclosed ailment, even though doctors there have so far found no basis for it, Salcedo said.
Spampanato, who gave Hackensack police an address in Boca Raton, FLA, is charged with wrongful impersonation, forgery, uttering and what to this point is third-degree theft (involving more than $500 in services).
Hospital officials were still totaling the bill, however, which Salcedo said could increase the severity of the charge.
A judge set bail at $50,000 for Spampanato, who likely will be transferred to Bergen Regional Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation before ending up at the county jail. A Municipal Court hearing will be scheduled.