Crime History: Gambler sent to prison for extortion of Yankees owner

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

On this day, Dec. 10, 1991, Bronx gambler Howard Spira was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for trying to extort money from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Four years earlier, Steinbrenner paid Spira $40,000 to dig up dirt on Yankees star Dave Winfield.

Spira, who owed $100,000 to Mafia connected bookies, promised proof that the outfielder has been spending Winfield's charity money on his girlfriends.

Spira threatened to go public if Steinbrenner didn't pay him more money. Spira wanted $110,000. The Yankees owner turned to the FBI.

When commissioner Fay Vincent learned of Steinbrenner's seedy dealing with the gambler, he banned Steinbrenner from baseball for 30 months.

Spira was convicted of exortion, and served 22 months in federal prison.

-Scott McCabe

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