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CON MAN SAYS HIS THREAT WAS ONLY A PLOY TO SHARE PROFIT

A man who conned rich New Yorkers by posing as Sidney Poitier's son hopes to convince a jury he was just seeking his fair share of the profits when he threatened a writer who based a play on his exploits.

David Hampton, 28, is accused of continually calling playwright John Guare, demanding money and threatening him because he "stole my life."Hampton was charged last spring with aggravated harassment, and his trial is expected to go to the jury this week. He could get up to a year in prison.

Hampton testified he didn't really mean the threat and was just trying to get Guare to talk about paying him since the 54-year-old playwright admits his acclaimed "Six Degrees of Separation" was inspired by Hampton's charade.

Guare, whose other works include the plays "House of Blue Leaves" and a musical version of Shakespeare's "Two Gentlemen of Verona," as well as the screenplay for the movie "Atlantic City," testified he was frightened by Hampton and believed he was serious.

In 1983, Hampton posed as Poitier's son, conning his way into the homes of several prominent New Yorkers. Inside, he bamboozled them out of money and clothes. He spent 21 months in prison for the scam.

Guare's play earned four 1991 Tony Award nominations and was named the year's best play by the New York Drama Critics Circle.

Hampton sued Guare for $100 million, charging that the playwright stole his life for personal profit. A judge threw out the case, saying it was not in the public interest to copyright the schemes of a criminal mind.

Evidence against Hampton in the current trial includes an answering machine tape on which he said in 1991: "I would strongly advise that you give me some money or you start counting your days because I've had just about enough of this and I'm sick and tired of it."