He stormed into New Orleans with platinum blond hair plugs, obvious plastic surgery, a slew of stories . . . and a checkered past.
“Michael Morgan” (aka Michael Manos) told his new friends that he was an international investor and J. P. Morgan’s grandson. He let real estate agents know he was in the market for a $2 million house, and he made sure that acquaintances overheard cell phone calls in which he ordered multimillion-dollar bank transfers.
He claimed to run a company called M2 Trust, with offices in, according to its website, Geneva, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, DC, and New Orleans. He said he was launching a skincare line, “Fierce,” and pitching a reality show, “Bourbon Street: What happens in the Street, Stays in the Street.”
On top of all that, he offered to teach two new friends how to get started in event promotions. With unemployed waiter Ryan Exsterstein and Exsterstein’s boyfriend Chris Picou, Manos formed Royale Productions in the summer of 2013. They started planning “Indulge,” an opulent, $125-ticket Halloween ball that was to take place on October 24 at the Eiffel Society on St. Charles Avenue. Proceeds were to benefit Covenant House, an organization for homeless youth.
But Manos disappeared unexpectedly for weeks later that summer. When he returned, he explained that his sister and his dog had died, and that he’d ended a
messy relationship. He moved ahead with the party plan, renting the venue, organizing sponsors, and booking dancers through Carl Mack.
When Manos’s landlord saw Mack listed on a flyer as a sponsor of the event, he called Mack to warn him about the man who’d already burned him. Manos had arranged to rent a Royal Avenue apartment for $500 a week. But he had been paying with checks in another man’s name—checks that bounced.
Meanwhile, a Dallas friend tipped off Rip Naquin, the publisher of local gay magazine Ambush: Manos had a record of bamboozling Dallas socialites.
The night’s sponsors started pulling out. And law enforcement closed in.
US marshals arrested Michael Morgan, aka Michael Manos, aka any of a dozen other aliases, for violating Texas and New York parole by crossing state lines.