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Westporter convicted in 'Yankee Stadium dirt' scam

Published 6:52 am, Friday, May 17, 2013
  • Mark Hayward Photo: Contributed Photo / Fairfield Citizen contributed
    Mark Hayward Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Westport resident Mark Hayward kept a stiff upper lip Thursday when a jury convicted him of ripping off an early rock musician and golf book author from Fairfield by concocting a scam to sell dirt from the former Yankee Stadium.

Hayward, a British citizen who lives in Westport, calmly buttoned the jacket of his tailored suit and waited as the six jurors left the courtroom at state Superior Court in Bridgeport.

"I made a real product, a quality product. I didn't intend to defraud anyone," he said as judicial marshals led him handcuffed from the courtroom after the verdict.

The 53-year-old Hayward, found guilty of first-degree larceny, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced by state Superior Court John Blawie on July 10. At the request of Senior Assistant State's Attorney Cornelius Kelly, the judge agreed to increase Hayward's bond to $225,000 and ordered him to surrender his passport.

Later, Hayward's wife cornered the jurors in a small alcove by the court's sole elevator.

"Because of you, we have now lost everything and my husband's going to be deported!" she yelled at the jurors until a marshal came to their aid.

Hayward, the president of Mark I Group, a marketing company, was charged with defrauding Bob Runk, one of the founding members of the 1960s rock band Uranus and the Five Moons, of more than $80,000.

Runk, who lives in Fairfield, later became a successful author of golf books, including, "How to Line Up Your Fourth Putt," before launching a solo singing career and issuing two albums. He was not in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.

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

But the enterprise bogged down 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.

Kelly then called to the stand a representative from Barclay's, who had flown from England to testify in the case. The witness denied the letters came from the bank, adding that Hayward did not have 1.2 million pounds in an account, but rather was overdrawn by 300 pounds.

"The jury arrived at the appropriate verdict," Kelly said later.