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 r√©sum√©s. 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 assembled the following rundown from assorted online sources including the LA Times article.
1973-1977: After high school, Brito enlists and serves in the Marine Corp under the name Freddrick Esparza.
1977: Shortly after being discharged, Brito steals $1000 from the bank where he works as a teller. He pleads guilty, and is given four years probation. The next month, he is also caught and convicted of renting cars and not returning them.
1979: Brito breaks the terms of his parole and flees to Canada, where he is arrested for “numerous crimes, including theft of blank airline tickets and possession and use of stolen credit cards.” After eight months in jail, he is extradited to the United States and sent to a Federal Prison.
1980’s: “Brito bounced in and out of prison…by the mid-80’s he had shifted to inventing and assuming identities.” (Tanya Alvanez, LA Times)
Mid-90’s: After a few months of living with Norbertine priests in Albuqurque, NM, he is kicked out after they discover he lied about his status as a seminary student in Mexico.
January, 2002: Brito is fired from an L.A. law firm and charged with embezzling $600 after a short stint as an office manager. Before he he can be arrested, he flees to Yuma, AZ where he works as a priest known as Father B. Gomez de Esparza. One month into it, after a trip to Mexico makes a trip, he is picked up on a warrant for the embezzled $600. However…
He somehow talked his way out of the arrest — church officials say he convinced border police that it was his twin brother they were really after — and headed for Phoenix, where he passed himself off as a visiting priest at two parishes, presiding over a funeral, baptisms and quincea√±eras and saying Mass. (Tanya Alvanez, LA Times)
July 5, 2002: Brito is convicted for Grand Theft and sent to prison.
2002/2003: “Within 3 months” of being released, Brito becomes program director at A Place Called Home, a South Central youth center, using the name Father Federico Brito Gomez de Esparza, but is later fired for “personality conflicts.”
September – December 2003: Brito is hired and then dismissed as an Executive Director at the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. No details as to why he is no longer there, or what name he used in that position.
Summer 2004: Brito is hired as Deputy Director at the Western Law Center for Disability Rights under the name Federiqkoe DiBritto III. His employment is terminated for unknown reasons, although the Center says that his criminal history and aliases weren’t discovered until after he was gone.
October 2004: Brito is hired by the UCLA as a fundraiser (with a $100,000 salary) for the David Geffen School of Medicine. In this position, the Daily Bruin wrote he had “access to donor records, which include donation history, addresses and contact information for various donors to the digestive diseases division.”
June 2005: After being tipped off by police, Brito is fired for falsifying his resume and arrested by campus detectives for violating terms of his parole – apparently in part for not mentioning his criminal history.
June 28, 2005: a man named “Roberto Medina, Common Citizen” posts an interview with Fred Brito on LA Voice, referring to convicted felon Brito as an “alleged felon”, boasted that Antonio Villaraigosa interrupted the interview to give Brito a hug, and referring to Brito’s life as “full of adventure”. I have not been able to track down this “Roberto Medina” for comment. This comes shortly after Fred Brito put himself on the ballot for the Cypress Park Neighborhood Council, but then removed his name.
August 14th, 2005: Only two months later, Brito lands another fundraising job with the American Red Cross (for over $60,000/year) using the name Fred Brito Gomez. When confronted with a background check detailing the criminal history of Fred Brito, he claims that “It must be some kind of identity theft” and is hired.
August 17th, 2005: The Los Angeles Times publishes a detailed profile on Fred Brito’s exploits on the front page. The following day, “debated whether to come in to work that Wednesday morning.” (LA Times, October 8, 2005) Not fired, Brito posts the full text the article on his blog.
September 16th, 2005: After noticing questionable job performance, an executive there became suspicious of Brito’s credentials and did an internet search, turning up a recent front page LA Times article about Brito’s firing at UCLA. Brito was immediately dismissed from the Red Cross,
September 21, 2005: Fred Brito posts an advertisment on his blog that he can be hired to “work for the other side” and help employers and law enforcement identify frauds.
March 2006: On his blog, Brito writes that he’s cleared parole.
At some point between this and the next entry, Brito deletes his blog at fredbrito.blogspot.com
February 2007: Fred Brito emerges in Las Cruces, New Mexico using the name Federico Gomez de Maria.
Additional sources: Pasadena Star News, Mayor Sam’s Sister City, LA Observed, LA Voice.