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Monday, March 31, 2008

No Shame, No Conscience

I picked up Sunday's New York newspapers and to my utter chagrin I discovered not one, but two separate stories about two different men who were caught in two 9/11 scams.

It's really disturbing to hear that this sort of thing goes on. Granted, in many tragic situations, like Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war, there are going to be those types who feel they can make money off of the heartache and disasters that many people have gone through and continue to go through. But hearing two separate stories about 9/11 scammers, it makes me wonder how people like these can sleep at night.

One guy claimed to be a New York City cop who rescued thousands at the World Trade Center, was arrested in New Jersey on charges unrelated to the 9/11 disaster, that he looted from a woodworking company he founded. Fred Parisi claimed to be a cop but was not at the WTC the day of the disaster. He had been at the Police Academy in 2001 but never graduated to join the force.

His impersonation of a 9/11 hero encouraged people to help a foundation he set up, and Parisi showed up at many legitimate 9/11 events. Police believe he illegally pocketed at least $235,000 from the company he set up. Here is the complete New York Daily News story:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/03/30/2008-03-30_ground_zero_hero_arrested_at_fundraiser_.html

And the other story from the Post was a guy who told people that he and his dog rescued people from the rubble at Ground Zero and scammed the American Red Cross out of $50,000 in relief funds. Scott Shields (not the Los Angeles Angels pitcher) claimed he lived near the WTC but in fact lived in Greenwich, CT on the day of the attacks. Shields claimed in interviews that he and his now-deceased Golden Retriever made the only "live finds" of 9/11 victims, but authorities couldn't back up those claims.

It started unraveling for Shields when a relief worker named Phil Porteus suspected he was a fake and set up a web site to expose Shields, ScottShieldsFraud.com, in 2005. It took three years, but Shields was finally nabbed and now faces 35 years in prison on conspiracy, mail fraud and embezzlement charges.

These were only the latest 9/11 scammers to get caught using the worst tragedy in our nation's history for financial gain. I guess some people have no scruples, ethics or conscience.

A good stretch in the slammer for both might change their minds.

3 comments:

Rob said...

To be fair, while it's apparent that Parisi bilked his customers in his other businesses (the $235,000 was from some construction biz, right?) and he lied about being secret service and an NYPD cop, I couldn't find anything that said his 9/11 nonprofit wasn't legit.

Where there's smoke, there's fire, sure, but maybe let's wait until there's actually some evidence that he's done the thing that they're going to use to call him a "heartless monster" as opposed to a run-of-the-mill con man. Maybe he's the hooker with a heart of gold, stealing from people to give to the nonprofit.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Even if he did raise money legitimately for 9/11 charities, I can't condone someone lying about being at the WTC and claiming to be a hero there.

A con man's a con man. The fact that he used the 9/11 disaster as his cover is deplorable. No sympathy from me.

The Omnipotent Q said...

And it's a slap in the face to every man or woman who was a legitimate hero on the worst day in our country's history.