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OPPOSITE EDITORIAL


The Other Side of Fraud

Fred Damaia, accused and exonerated, tells his side

April 5, 2006

By FRED DAMAIA


As a senior manager for America's Mortgage, a net branch of Advantage Investor's Mortgage, I handled the daily operations of the company, but had no financial control.

The sole owner of America's Mortgage was James Niblock, who made all financial decisions.

On, or about, May, 2002, the FBI was finishing an investigation into America's Mortgage and discovered that over 8 million dollars had been siphoned from client's mortgages to, at that time, an unknown account through America's Mortgage. The FBI closed down the company and James Niblock was subsequently arrested.

I was assisting the investigators with the investigation at this time, but had very little valuable information to offer because I was never privy to any of the financial operations of the company. I was scheduled to leave on a pre-planned cruise with my wife and two children and proceeded on my vacation.

The investigators were apparently having difficulty locating the stolen funds and Mr. Niblock was not cooperating. At our ship's first port of call, Charleston, SC, the FBI and Coast Guard boarded our ship and proceeded to arrest me in front of my wife, children and fellow passengers. The FBI somehow hastily concluded that I was in possession of the stolen funds and was taking it on the cruise with me. I was held in the Charleston Detention Center overnight, transferred in handcuffs and ankle shackles and shared a small cell with three other inmates.

The following morning an attorney arrived from Baltimore and the FBI began to realize their error in arresting me and their rush to judgment.

I was released into the custody of my attorney while my family had no choice but to remain on board. It was ten days before we would be reunited. All charges against me were subsequently dropped and James Niblock was sentenced to 20 years in a Federal Penitentiary.

At that time, MortgageDaily.com news published a story about my arrest and this story continues to haunt me today.

As a husband and father and a man who has never been in trouble with the law, it pains me to see publications be so quick to pick up a story from a news wire, but very slow (if at all) to follow up on the entire story.

My involvement with America's Mortgage was solely one of production and growth, which I accomplished over my two-year tenure, but much to my dismay, the owner of the company was embezzling funds, which ultimately led to these false accusations. All accusations were proven unfounded by the FBI's thorough and final investigation and they determined that James Niblock was solely responsible for all of the wrong doings.

This false arrest was a time in my life that affected me for many months, but I rose above the travesty of justice and went on to open my own mortgage broker business and moved my family to Florida for a fresh start. I now own and operate TG Financial out of my Florida office and hold an additional license in Maryland and have been very successful over the past four years.


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