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 LasCrucesAdvocate@gmail.com 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

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