The Chase

After the New Year's Eve masquerade ball he threw in a tent in Bella's parking lot, Manos began preparing for an even bigger occasion—the reopening of the restaurant and the debut of Bella Boyz.

Manos thought that Thome and Ek had looked at his hard drive, which would have led them to the Facebook page his estranged boyfriend Jamal Alexander had created called "Stop Michael de Medici," detailing the kidnapping and other lurid stories about him. Manos says he hired a private investigator, confirming through phone records that Thome and Ek had been in touch with his cousin and Alexander. He hesitated to run from Dallas with the party so close, so he stuck around for the big event on Friday night—but on Sunday afternoon he cut out.

Michael Manos hid behind a series of aliases after jumping his parole, but he could never keep a low profile. Opposite: During Pop Life’s 2008 red-carpet premiere in New York City, Manos may have revealed more about himself than he intended, saying in an interview that his show “follows my life, which is inspired by real events.”
Brett Vander
Michael Manos hid behind a series of aliases after jumping his parole, but he could never keep a low profile. Opposite: During Pop Life’s 2008 red-carpet premiere in New York City, Manos may have revealed more about himself than he intended, saying in an interview that his show “follows my life, which is inspired by real events.”

On January 13 Manos returned to Dallas to gather his belongings, and met Hezlep to discuss restarting SFR in San Francisco or L.A, where there were greater opportunities, he said. Besides, with his cousin, Thome and Ek on his trail, they had to leave right away.

Thome says that Manos began sending her threatening texts. "He kept telling me that he was in town, that he was watching me, that he was pulling my phone records," she says. Word circulated among Manos' business partners that he'd left Dallas, and McCulley, who is also a private investigator, began piecing together details of Manos' unseemly past.

As McCulley recalls it, the night of Manos' arrest played out in high Hollywood drama. Thome had been in touch with Hezlep's parents, and learned he was in a San Francisco hotel with his friend Mike. Thome passed the details along to McCulley, who says he immediately began looking up hotels online. McCulley phoned several, asking if anyone had checked in with a black lab that night, and after confirming that the Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf had a guest named Doug Hezlep, he warned the hotel manager that he had a guest who was running from the law.

In the hotel room a half hour later, Hezlep opened the door to six U.S. Marshals and a corrections official, who entered the room and handcuffed the pair but shortly released Hezlep. Although the marshals had shut Mimi out on the balcony, where she barked as they searched the room, Manos convinced them to let her in. He kissed her goodbye as they led him away.

On January 22 The Dallas Morning News broke the story that con artist Michael Manos had been caught in San Francisco after trying to steal from celebrities and charities in Dallas. Petrie filed a complaint against Manos for $70,000 in unauthorized charges to his credit card, though he now says he's settled the issue with American Express and is not interested in pressing charges. Rumors swirled across Alexander's Facebook page, where Manos' business partners in Dallas, Atlanta and New York united to share stories and wonder how much they should believe. Ek and Thome were among those posting updates on the Facebook page, detailing what drove Manos out of Dallas.

Manos maintains the stories about him are all overblown, the product of his cousin and Alexander feeding speculation about his true identity. Now that he's been caught, he says, "I gained my freedom and my life back."

Still, the law may not be done with Michael Manos. Dallas police detectives may still pursue credit-card abuse charges based on Petrie's complaint, plus a felony charge arising from his use of a false name on the Ashton rental form. In San Francisco, where impersonation charges were brought against Manos, then dropped, the DA's office says they still could pick up charges if they're able to find the real Mordan Stefanov. In Atlanta, perhaps most seriously, ongoing investigations into CDM International's finances could spoil Manos' plans to live free under his real name. If the authorities want to question Manos now, they know where to find him. He currently resides in the Dutchess County jail, back home in Poughkeepsie.

He's working on a book, he says, and has an agent shopping it around. "Think Jackie Collins with a mixture of reality," he says. Manos says he finished the first chapter about getting arrested in San Francisco, the night of his parole hearing. And for busting parole, which sparked the cross-country cons, aliases and a fugitive life of glamour, Manos received only a 12-month sentence.

He awaits a move upstate where he'll spend the rest of 2010 in prison, but is already making plans for the parties he'll throw once he gets out. Mordan Stefanov may be finished in Dallas, but Michael Manos says he is looking forward to returning and picking up where he left off.

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10 comments
Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson

I know Michael Manos well and he leaves a path of destruction. He always destroys everyone around him and he quietly disappears as a thief in the night.

marie
marie

I met that criminal when he was in Sing Sing twice a parole violator. Everything that comes out of that criminals mouth is a lie.

Dave
Dave

"Dallas?" celebrities, society, "bella Boyz hottest new reality show?" is this some kind of a joke. What next "the real Housewives of Collin County?' I can't stop laughing.

Joe
Joe

Haha, I wonder who the dumbass was that let him into inner circles.

Mark R.
Mark R.

I met Tony and "Peach" the same night of the NY's party. Nice guys, sorry to see they were taken. My brush with fame, I guess :) Good Job, Observer folks!!!

Ginny
Ginny

Sounds like his name should be Seneca Smith! Thnat is the biggest con artist I have ever run into- lies to make you think he is someone that he is not, always changing his name, steals stuff and sells it to others (like cars) and needs to be in prison.If you run into someone like 6'5 who says his dad is in charge of Virgin records or something else big and rich, you may want to think of this article and BE CAREFUL!!!

chevytexas
chevytexas

Hm, "defrauded the gay community"? I hardly think that statement flies. "Defrauded a few self-deluded queens" doesn't make a community; chumps come in every category. Dallas isn't much different from Atlanta in recognizing a scam, but allowing it to proceed for the sense of theater. This guy's story is interesting for an article, not much of a bump in the scale of fraud. Doesn't anyone remember the Meaders' anymore? Shades of the Potashniks.

Ben Had'ee
Ben Had'ee

Had a relative show up at that Bella party and they called me going off about what a special event it was..I could smell the scam from their description of everything and when I saw pictures of this cartoon character working the "red carpet" omg I cracked up laughing. In a way these kind of characters are good for cities...they remind us all of how thin the line is between the real thing and make believe. How could anyone take his "scene" seriously...if they did..maybe they need to analyze why. This smacks of Bruno'esq antics where the fool may be making a bigger fool out of it's victims.

Hall
Hall

This happens every year or two in Dallas. Last one I remember was the 'Rockefeller' child, virtually identical facts. Come on, anybody with half a brain knew when they met him, heard all the plans, this was a con. A high-rise leased without a credit check? Nobody sat him down, "Who the Hell are you?" (I can understand a Reagan administration official being too stupid, that's another story.) It was fun, entertaining, in the grand scheme of things, really didn't cost all that much.

Skipper
Skipper

BC Dallas is a suckers town. There are several "high flyers" in Ft. Worth too. All the ladies of court like be entertained by the flamboyant jesters and will get burned if they get too close to their flaming batons.

 
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