In the fierce world of mortgage lenders, rivalry between competitors can turn nasty – really nasty.
Just ask Theresa Niemiec of West Bloomfield, the wife of a Quicken Loans executive who claims her husband’s rivals have “shamed” her in a series of steamy, misogynistic texts and videos as a way to hurt her husband’s employer.
A man falsely accused her of committing sex acts with a competitor, she said, then mocked her husband in a follow-up text message: “I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings,” he sent, adding emojis resembling sex organs. “How is Teresa. Give him the best of me. “
Niemiec received the message and responded with a lawsuit.
In a business dispute that has turned personal and has taken a look at the fiercely competitive mortgage industry, Niemiec, the wife of Quicken Loans executive vice president Austin Niemiec, filed a libel suit this month against one of her husband’s competitors: Anthony Casa, CEO of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME).
The lawsuit alleges that Casa falsely accused Niemiec of promiscuity at university with United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia.
Casa posted a lengthy apology on Facebook for his attacks on Niemiec, drawing support from some and contempt from Niemiec’s lawyers.
According to the lawsuit, Casa and Ishbia are friends, have a working relationship and see each other as competitors of Quicken Loans.
Ishbia is not prosecuted.
According to Niemiec’s lawyer, she never went to college with Ishbia, does not know him socially and was 11 when Ishbia was in college.
Casa also never met Niemiec, the lawsuit says, but he “put her in his sights because she is the wife of Mr. Niemiec”, and degraded and humiliated them both by through multiple “defamatory” text messages he sent to her husband, including:
- “I love meeting your wife. It’s amazing that this was the girl who (performed oral sex) in college. Way to get married. “
- “No lip kisses.”
- “You never trusted him anyway.”
According to the lawsuit, Niemiec’s lawyer demanded a retraction from Casa, but he allegedly mocked the couple instead, sending this text message on July 7 to her husband:
“Hello boyfriend. I saw the letter from your lawyer. I’m so sorry that I hurt your feelings. Give everyone my best! I can’t (wait) to see you soon.” He closed the text with a wink emoji.
The next day, Casa texted the husband another text: “How is Teresa. Give her the best of me.” Many suggestive emojis have been added.
The lawsuit called the texts “objectionable and particularly appalling during the #metoo era” and said Casa and others had targeted Niemiec “because of his gender”.
“The defamatory video clips and text messages … exploit the long and deeply disturbing history of crude and misogynistic insults from men who seek to dominate and demean the role and place of women in society,” the lawsuit says, which was filed on July 10. .
“It should not be tolerated, diminished or brushed aside as jokes or ‘boys being boys’ plagued by women’s vulnerabilities,” Niemiec’s lawyer Jason Hirsch wrote in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes screenshots of an obscene text string about Niemiec that Casa sent to her husband and others, including Kevin Peranio, PRMG’s loan manager, and Ramon Walker, owner of Mount. Diablo Lending.
According to the lawsuit, “Peranio and Walker recorded video clips of each of them watching and reacting to Casa’s slanderous video clips and text messages in derogatory, derisory and ridiculous ways.” Casa then sent the video clips to Niemiec’s husband and others “in a deliberate effort to shame the crowd,” the costume says.
Neither Peranio nor Walker are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks retraction of the videos, unspecified damages and attorney fees.
In a statement released Tuesday, Quicken Loans expressed support for Niemiec and denounced Casa.
“There is no room in our society for the types of misogynistic, threatening and disrespectful comments Ms. Niemiec was forced to endure at the hands of Mr. Casa,” said an official at Quicken Loans. “We respect – and admire – his desire to stand up for himself and his family. It has also been heartening to see countless mortgage brokers and lenders across the country coming together in solidarity to show that this behavior is not acceptable. , does not reflect the brokerage community and will not be tolerated in any way.
‘I’m going to own this’
Casa took to Facebook on Sunday to apologize for his alleged remarks. In an eight-minute video, he said he made a “big mistake” and “an error in judgment” and let his anger get the better of him following a heated discussion with Mr. Niemiec.
According to Casa, Mr. Niemiec had sent him a video of him and his wife at a party celebrating a record month or quarter at Quicken Loans, and he felt that “they were trying to push me.”
“Unfortunately, I let the emotions of the situation get the better of me. I responded with a video message and made some really inappropriate obscene comments about this person’s wife. ‘should never have said, things that I don’t believe and things that are inappropriate and hurtful, “Casa said.” I am more than sorry to everyone for making these comments. At the time, I just lost all sense of reality. “
Casa said his “competitive” side got the better of him.
“I am a passionate person. I am extremely competitive,” Casa says in the video. “I’m from New Jersey. I’m vocal… I’m serious.”
In his video, Casa also asked for support from the brokerage community, saying he was aware of the lawsuit against him in Michigan and that people would be talking about him – but he didn’t want his mistake to be made. derail what he described. like a powerful brokerage movement.
“I’m going to be embarrassed about this for the rest of my life. As a father of two daughters, I have to live with this, ”Casa said, noting that he also works with many women in the brokerage community. “It’s just not who I am … I’m sorry those words came out of my mouth … I have to make sure that in order to move forward, this will never happen again … I’ll own it. “
Apologies are ‘insulting’
Jeffrey Morganroth, whose law firm represents Theresa Niemiec, said that “Casa’s alleged video apology is really a narrative apology.”
“It’s insulting,” Morganroth said in an interview with the Free Press on Tuesday. “There is no excuse for Ms. Niemiec – at all. And what he uses as a narrative excuse is actually the opposite of what actually happened.”
Morganroth scoffed at Casa’s claims that he acted in the heat of the moment, saying his slurs and obscene comments were made for several days and that it was Casa who pushed Mr. Niemiec, and not the other way around.
According to Morganroth, Casa made contact with Mr. Niemiec, hurled insults and derogatory comments at him, and when Mr. Niemiec did not take the bait, Mr. Casa stepped up his attacks by filming and streaming videos. directed against Ms. Niemiec.
The attacks began on July 2 and continued through July 7, Morganroth said, noting that Casa ignored requests to retract his statements and instead continued to send “vile and disgusting” messages to professional circles. targeting Ms. Niemiec, and released videos of others making fun of her.
“To say he was provoked and acted in the heat of the moment was wrong,” Morganroth said.
Casa’s apology also rang hollow with Austin Niemiec, who defended his wife in a video he posted on his LinkedIn on Monday account, drawing over 10,000 views in 19 hours. He said Casa ran away in a text exchange, called him an “asshole” and then “degraded” his wife in a series of obscene videos within the brokerage community.
“It’s just disgusting,” said Austin Niemiec, who thanked his wife “for being bold in standing up for herself and our family.”
“At the end of the day, I’m a big boy. I can handle the competition – I love the competition. But it definitely crosses the line and I will continue to stand up for what is good for my family and the brokerage community.” Said Austin Niemiec.
‘We have your back’
Since posting his video apology online on Sunday, Casa has received a surge of support on his Facebook page from colleagues, friends and family. Over 80 people posted positive comments on his page, and many applauded him for admitting his mistake and telling him that no one was perfect.
“We’ve all done and said things we’re not proud of. It doesn’t matter. Life goes on and we stand with you Anthony,” one article read.
“Thanks for your honesty,” posted another Facebook user. “The character appearing when no one is watching and you take the steps to clean up a mess on your own shows that you are a man of character and integrity.”
A friend compared him to a popular cartoon character.
“Everyone makes mistakes. It takes a real man to recognize, apologize and correct things. You’re a good man Charlie Brown 😁. Stay strong.”
Contact Tresa Baldas: [email protected]