Monday, December 31, 2007

Fred Brito on Dr. Phil episode: Faking It

Dr. Phil McGraw catches Fred Brito in lie after lie on national television.

In the episode, McGraw invites a couple who were "married" by "Father Brito" to confront him in the hopes of an apology for deceiving them into believing they were married by a real priest.

Before the show, Brito had told the producers he had written a book. On air, he attempts to dodge the revelation that he plagiarized the entire book.

Dr. Phil cuts down Brito repeatedly, who claims that his deceptions are over. "That was the past," Brito says.

In a particularly chilling moment, Dr. Phil shows Brito an index card with information about Fred so sensitive he doesn't even discuss it on air. What bit of Fred Brito's past is so damning that not only does Dr. Phil hesitate to mention it, but it even shuts up Fred Brito?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fred Brito on Dateline NBC: The Ultimate Con Artist

Dateline NBC found Fred Brito's exploits so compelling that they devoted an hour of prime time network television to him.

Josh Mankiewicz interviews Fred Brito and people he's conned over the years. The report covers as far back as 1974, when Brito was charged with molesting a young boy, his convictions for embezzlement and auto theft, and up to the present.

Brito tells Mankiewicz essentially the same thing that he told the LA Times two years prior - that his days of lying are over. Brito says, "Fred Brito, conman, is no longer. The old Fred didn’t get me anywhere."

Mankiewicz closes the hour by noting that months after his interview, Brito was hired and fired from the New Mexico performing arts academy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fred Brito story to air Tuesday night on Dateline NBC

Proof that everything Fred Brito says isn’t a lie: the one hour Dateline NBC episode about him that he’s been hyping for over a year is scheduled to air this Tuesday, April 24th, at 8pm. From the official site:

Josh Mankiewicz takes viewers inside the mind of someone who’s not just a con man, but also a world-class imposter who has reportedly tricked a state senator, The Red Cross, celebrities, a prestigious medical school and even the Catholic Church.

It will be interesting to see what angle they take, but based on inside tips and a quote from Mankiewicz published last month, I don’t think Brito will be portrayed as heroic:

One of the confounding things about Fred’s story is he has told so many lies to so many people over so many years that even he can’t remember what is true or not.

Fred Brito, now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was working in a high paying fund raising position at UCLA in 2005 when he was arrested, and fired, when his employers learned he was hired using an alias and made no mention he was on parole. A couple months later, Brito was again fired from another well paid job doing fundraising with the American Red Cross in Pasadena, where again he was using a false name. Surprisingly, he was able to work there for a month after the LA Times ran a front page expose about him.

The Brito “saga” is indeed fascinating, as the above is merely the tip of the iceberg. I have a timeline of Brito’s exploits on a previous post, with follow up entries here, where I discovered he was leaving comments accusing me of getting him drunk, trying to have sex with him, and stealing his watch… here, where I break the news that he was effectively fired again in New Mexico, from another fundraising gig (albeit a low paying, part time one), for being hired under another assumed name… and here, where the local Las Cruces newspaper finally catches up with what I’ve been reporting here.

On Fred Brito’s current blog “How To Catch a Con”, he boasts of being the “World Renowned Master of the Con” and “The Benevolent Con”, and offers to give seminars to teach people how to proactively keep from hiring guys like him, and provides a list of his accomplishments in decepting employers from the National Kidney Foundation to A Place Called Home (a charity assisting “at-risk” youths).

Article originally posted at L.A. Metblogs.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fred Brito fired again for using a false name

Ex-felon threatening legal action against newspaper for writing about writing about him

Last Friday, Fred Gomez, aka Federico B. Gomez de Maria, was fired from his position as an administrative director and fund raiser at the New Mexico Performing Arts Academy in Las Cruces, NM, where he’d been working since last year. Fred Brito admitted that he was dismissed for “not disclosing his full identity.”

Representatives at the Academy were hesitant to comment on the situation, citing that Fred Brito has threatened to sue them for wrongful termination.

Los Angeles readers will recall that Brito made local headlines in August, 2005 after he was fired from UCLA for falsifying his resume and disclosing his previous convictions for embezzlement and theft, along with a lengthy history of gaining employment using false credentials, including work as a Roman Catholic priest and other fundraising positions. At the time the LA Times printed the front page story about him, he had already found work with the American Red Cross in Pasadena, who fired him a month later for, again, falsifying his credentials and not disclosing his criminal history. (click here for a timeline of Fred Brito’s “employment and conviction” history)

According to a statement currently available on Fred Brito’s blog*, the Las Cruces Sun will be publishing their own front page story about Fred Brito on March 9th. The statement goes on to attack the newspaper for its motives, and contends author of the article, who he names as Jennifer Kistler, “is an young novice aspiring reporter and would give anything to capture the “golden goose egg” on her personal road to fame and glory by exploiting and sensationalizing people’s personal life struggles with total disregard for ethics and journalistic professionalism.”

The statement dismisses the 2005 incidents in Los Angeles as “an old story” and makes no reference to his more recent firing in Las Cruces. Also stated is the “Gomez de Maria family’s” intention to sue the Las Cruces Sun for “intent to disparage and harm him with malice and without just cause.”

In addition, Fred Brito’s admission of the firing from the New Mexico Performing Arts Academy, originally posted on March 3rd, has since been removed from his blog.

It should also be noted that last October, the Las Cruces Sun printed two stories about a “Fred Gomez” with accompanying photos that match Fred Brito’s, including one story about a “check scam” that “Fred Gomez” said he’d nearly fallen victim to.

Previous coverage of Fred Brito reemerging in Las Cruces.

*Post deleted after this entry was originally written.

This article originally posted at L.A. Metblogs.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fred Brito: Back In the Saddle Again

Infamous Los Angeles conman found using an alias in New Mexico… and campaigning for John Edwards

If you don’t know the name Fred Brito, he’d like to meet you.

The last time he caught local attention was in 2005, once when he was the subject of a front page article in the LA Times about conning his way into a fundraising position there, and then two months later when it was discovered that he’d again conned his way into a similar job with the American Red Cross.

Both of these incidents just add to a lifetime as a con-artist, spending 11 years in prison over the years for grand theft and embezzlement, frequently embellishing his resume and references to obtain positions as a psychiatrist, youth counselor, and on seperate occasions as a priest, and in all cases using a new name for each sham.

Since 2005, Fred Brito has been relatively quiet. However, a recent internet search discovered that he’s recently moved to New Mexico where he’s been living under yet another assumed name.

Using the alias Federico Gomez de Maria, Brito has “created” the New Mexico Center for Justice and Advocacy at the New Mexico State University. Brito writes in his new blog, “I will fund this center myself until such a time that I am able to I gather like minded leaders.”

He also posts on his blog two recent glowing articles about himself. A piece in the January 12th edition of the Las Cruces Bulletin features a photo of him wearing what appears to be a UCLA baseball cap. The other, by Victoria Hayslett at NMSU’s “The Round Up” appears to have been deleted from their site. However, messages apparently posted by Brito as NMCENTER4JUSTICE and advocate4people on the Round Up News bulletin boards have numerous replies from people outing Gomez de Maria as Brito, posting the full text of a Pasadena Star News article about his firing at the American Red Cross.

After the jump, more details of Brito’s recent actvities including his support of the Edwards campaign, as well as a timeline of his exploits.

The Las Cruces Bulletin writes that “Gomez” will assist recently released prison inmates by “vouching” for them:

“If they can’t get a job, I’ll advocate for them,” he said. “I’ll talk to prospective employers and ask them to try it out for 90 days. If they steal, I’ll be responsible for what was taken. If they can’t get a job, they revert to a life of crime or fabricate their resumes. It’s about survival.”

While nothing indicates what he’s doing is illegal, it certainly doesn’t appear that Brito is following his promises to go straight. Still, he doesn’t want to be forgotten – he continues to boast that Dateline NBC will be airing an interview done with him (more than a year after he originally made the claim). But any mention of his activities before moving to New Mexico, or his real name, Fred Brito, are non-existent on his new site.

What else has Brito been up to?

On Presidential candidate John Edwards’ website, someone using Brito’s photo and the email address is listed as a “captain” organizing local John Edwards for President meetings. Please note that anyone can sign up on this site and become a “captain” in less than five minutes.

Brito is also apparently posting around the web, including at Online Crime Bytes, a blog dedicated to warning people about identity theft and internet crime. A “Fred Gomez” left a comment about a scam he thought was being pulled on him, which blogger Deb Radcliff picked up and dedicated an entire entry to, clearly unaware of Fred Gomez’ other aliases.

The Fred Brito Timeline

Tonya Alanez at the LA Times summarized Brito as having “spent his adult life using aliases and phony credentials
to pull off one elaborate deception after another.”

He has lied his way into jobs as a Catholic priest, a youth counselor for a foster care agency and executive director of the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California, among many others. He once convinced a judge he was a psychiatrist in order to testify in a friend’s criminal trial.

In an effort to get a grasp on Brito’s history of crime and deception, I will continue to update this timeline based on public record, press reports, and original, vetted reporting.

Additional sources: Pasadena Star News, Mayor Sam’s Sister City, LA Observed, LA Voice.

Article originally posted at L.A. Metblogs