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Westport man gets jail term in Yankee dirt scam

Published 7:45 am, Friday, July 26, 2013
  • Mark Hayward, of Westport, was arrested Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 by Fairfield police on a warrant for first-degree larceny and third-degree forgery. Superior Court Judge John Blawie sentenced Hayward to 18 months and in addition five years probation during which time he is to make restitution for his crime. Photo: Contributed Photo / Fairfield Citizen contributed
    Mark Hayward, of Westport, was arrested Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 by Fairfield police on a warrant for first-degree larceny and third-degree forgery. Superior Court Judge John Blawie sentenced Hayward to 18 months and in addition five years probation during which time he is to make restitution for his crime. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Convicted of swindling a Fairfield man with a scheme to sell dirt from the former Yankee Stadium, Mark Hayward said he was ready to close on a $10 million deal with the Wall Street Journal provided he wasn't sent to prison.

But Superior Court Judge John Blawie wasn't buying and on Thursday sentenced the British citizen who lives in Westport to 18 months in prison.

"You are a classic white-collar criminal and you have a debt to pay to society," the judge said.

In addition to the jail time, the judge ordered Hayward to serve five years probation during which time he is to make restitution for his crime.

The 53-year-old Hayward, found guilty by a jury in May of first-degree larceny, for defrauding more than $80,000 from Fairfield resident Bob Runk, who has written several humorous golf manuals and a founding member of the 1960s rock band, Uranus and the Five Moons.

Runk was not in the Bridgeport courtroom when the sentence was handed down.

During the week-long trial, Runk testified that in 2008 Hayward convinced him to invest $34,000 in a business to sell bits of soil from the old Yankee Stadium packaged in key chains.

But the enterprise floundered and a few months later Hayward approached Runk for a $50,000 loan. Runk said Hayward gave him some letters purportedly from Barclay's Bank in England showing that he had 1.2 million pounds in the bank, but couldn't access the money until some fees were paid. Those letters were later determined to have been forged and Hayward had no money in that bank.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Cornelius Kelly told the judge that from the beginning of the case Hayward vowed to make restitution to Runk, but was later arrested in California for allegedly swindling a woman there in an investment scheme to start a company called Recycling Planet Earth. "Clearly incarceration is warranted here," the prosecutor added.

Hayward's lawyer, Frank DiScala Jr., maintained his client does have a viable business and urged the judge to give Hayward a chance to pay back Runk.

"I'm working with some of the wealthiest people in America," Hayward said.

"He's talking pie-in-the-sky," said Kelly, "When's it going to end?"