More than two years ago one Christian Michael de Medici announced a generous gift to the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention.
Billed as an “entrepreneur and philanthropist,” he was introduced at a fundraiser by organization founder Jane Fonda as he handed over the keys to a house. It was to be used for G-CAPP’s Doula Project, pairing birth attendants with pregnant girls. About a year later the house went into foreclosure and the man calling himself de Medici had left town.
“We all regret the experience,” G-CAPP CEO Michele Ozumba told Buzz Monday.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the man, whose real name is Michael Manos, was arrested last week “on a parole violation warrant out of New York.” He has “an extensive rap sheet stretching back to 1979 for convictions ranging from kidnapping to robbery,” and was released from prison in 2004, the DMN reported.
He kept his past at bay for years. He strolled red carpets in New York saying he was “a rich promoter seeking to do a reality TV show” and spent a good deal of time in Dallas before heading to San Francisco. In after city, the article said, he raised money for charity then allegedly left “ a wake of unpaid bills behind him.”
He may face fraud and theft charges in several states now.
“He convinced a lot of people,” said Ozumba. “He took the same story across the country.”
The project housed in de Medici’s short-lived donated dwelling was moved elsewhere, so clients could continue to be served.
“I feel very sad, but thankful that the harm wasn’t worse to our community,” Ozumba said. “The clients we serve did not suffer.”
The Dallas article suggests a good bit of future investigation and possible legal action.
“He’s been very busy with his scamming from Georgia all the way up to Dallas, up north to California and God knows where in between,” said Al Dwyer, a fugitive investigator with a U.S. Marshal’s Service task force in New York.
During Manos’ time in Atlanta Christopher Jones of Ansley Park saw him at several events, including the G-CAPP fundraiser where the house donation was announced. Jones found him to be a bit off.
“First, his accent was inconsistent and his clothes were too dramatic and at times ill fitting,” Jones said. “Once, I was engaged in a conversation with him and noticed his eyes did not focus on you and he seemed preoccupied with moving quickly. These were the simple red flags.”
A larger red flag began to wave when the two ran into each other a second time.
“I mentioned that I had “Googled” him on the internet and found him fascinating,” Jones said. “He turned pale and nervous. I knew something wasn’t right.”
At the time Manos, then going by Christian Michael de Medici, told the AJC:
“When 9/11 happened, it served as a wakeup call for me. Suddenly, I realized that life is not gifted to anyone. I was tired of writing checks. I wanted to get more involved. Because of things I’ve gone through in my own life, Jane Fonda’s work and G-CAPP’s work is very important to me.”
- Jennifer Brett, email@example.com