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7:30am — Checkered Past Catches Up

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — California native didn't tell Las Cruces nonprofit about his five felony convictions.

Federico "Fred" Gomez de Maria, a/k/a Fred Brito, 51, has been fired from his job as administrative director of the New Mexico Performing Arts Academy in Las Cruces as information began to surface — including a possible upcoming program on Dateline NBC — about Gomez's checkered past, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported on its Web site.

When he was hired last August by the Las Cruces nonprofit, he failed to mention that he was a five-time felon — spending a total of 11 years in prison for various felonies, including embezzlement, grand theft and theft, according to a Los Angeles Times story cited by the Sun-News.

Kathy Nau, president of the academy's board, told the Sun-News that the board had learned of Gomez's past before he was fired early this month, but she said that wasn't the reason for his firing.

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"It was mainly a conflict of managerial styles," Nau told the paper.

But Gomez, in an interview with the Sun-News, thinks that's exactly why he was fired.

"That was the only reason why asked me to leave … because I did not share with them my past," Gomez said. "No one ever asked me what my past was. And to me, that was a long time ago."

Nau said Gomez had been hired to run the general operations of the academy and to raise funds, but in his six months on the job, he had hired dance teachers, an artistic director and had found a new location for the academy in the Mesilla Valley Mall, but he hadn't raised any money, the Sun-News said.

""He said that he was working on it," Nau told the paper.

His latest brush with the law, according to a 2005 article in the Los Angeles Times (full article archived on Times Web site), came when he was arrested at UCLA Medical School after administrators found that he had been hired as a $100,000-a-year fund raiser under the name Federiqkoe DiBritto III and that he had fabricated a resume and wrote his own letters of recommendation, the Sun-News said.

He was held for two weeks but was let go when police found no evidence of criminal activity during his employment, according to the LA Times report.

Gomez told the Sun-News he has been "clean and free since 2002," but said he has changed names and enhanced his resume because that's the only way he can get a job.

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"If he is a convicted felon, you cannot get a job anywhere in America, if you're honest," Gomez told the paper.

"Obviously, everybody has skeletons in the closet. I have skeletons in my closet. I certainly am not proud of my background," Gomez told the Sun-News. "The mistakes that I have made have always, in most cases, been to bring a voice to the voiceless or disenfranchised."

NBC reporter Josh Mankiewicz, who is working on an upcoming Dateline NBC report on Gomez told the Sun-News that the program will be the story of "Fred Brito and all the lies that intersected at different points, all the people who were victims of his, and, in some cases, people he helped."

Mankiewicz said the program will include interviews with Gomez worked with as a fund raiser, office manager and even a couple for whom he conducted a wedding ceremony while posing as a priest, the Sun-News said.

"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," Mankiewicz told the Sun-News.

Gomez told the Sun-News that he moved to Las Cruces in May 2006 with his mother and stepfather. His mother died in June 2006, and he is currently caring for his stepfather who has Alzheimer's disease, the Sun-News reported.

Here's an online roundup of Gomez/Brito's colorful career from "Metroblogging Los Angeles ." 

 

 

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