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For some people, the terrorist attacks have been a gold mine
village voice ^ | published: August 31, 2011 | By Graham Rayman

Posted on 09/05/2011 5:28:09 PM PDT by RaceBannon


(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: US: New York; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: bloggersandpersonal; collapse; forras; slander; wtc
9|11: The Winners

For some people, the terrorist attacks have been a gold mine

By Graham Rayman

published: August 31, 2011

For the past ten years, a former volunteer firefighter named Vincent Forras has turned 9/11 into a high profile career that has taken him on overseas trips, gotten him photographed with mayors, governors, princes, and pro athletes, had him interviewed by national television personalities, has yielded a range of financial benefits, and an endorsement from none other than Don Imus for U.S. Senate.

Forras, now 54, of Ridgefield, Conn., certainly tells a compelling story. In an account he has told to dozens of reporters over the years, he claims that as a South Salem N.Y. volunteer firefighter, he rushed to Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001 and toiled there for weeks, leaving only once to celebrate his daughter's birthday. He claims he got trapped under the rubble for two hours and only a vision from God illuminated his escape, after he promised to devote his life to charity.

He goes on to say that he got sick from the air at the site almost immediately, and became desperately ill to the point where he could barely make it up the steps of his own house. He has many times been sought out by the media as a kind of spokesman for ailing responders.

The problem is that while Forras's general account remains somewhat consistent, the details seem to change from interview to interview, and among former associates, there's no small amount of skepticism about his claims.


Naturally, you can even buy 9/11 Truth merchandise: baseballs caps which say "9/11 was an inside job," and bumpers stickers which read "Bush knew."

All of which brings us back to Vincent Forras, who has for years shown up to 9/11 events with a dramatic account of his work at Ground Zero in a uniform festooned with so many medals that he might have made Gen. Patton envious.

Forras was never a New York City firefighter. He was a volunteer for the South Salem Fire Department until 2003, when his department released him for not working enough hours. And he actually sued his department, claimed that it was retaliating against him for talking about 9/11 and health issues. (Forras's lawyer, Michael Sussman, says the lawsuit was settled for a significant sum of money.)

There is no doubt that Forras has had health problems and received medical treatment for ailments he says are a result of Ground Zero. In fact, he received an $80,000 judgment from the first victims compensation fund, and has said he is seeking money from the second fund created for ailing responders.

But for a man who claims to be so ill, he has had the energy to appear at a wide range of 9/11 benefits and events across the country over the years, and has done a lot of traveling overseas.

Forras's charity, the Gear Up Foundation, has won praise for donating fire trucks and equipment overseas, chiefly in Ecuador.

However, the charity hasn't been filing required documents with the New York State Attorney General's office since 2007. In addition, last October, the Internal Revenue Service revoked Gear Up's tax-exempt status for failing to file key documents for three years. The Gear Up website, however, is up and running and seeking donations.

Perhaps the most controversial thing about Forras is his account of Ground Zero, which he has told countless times to dozens of media outlets. Forras has been on many television programs, including Fox's Neil Cavuto, the CBS morning show, and Don Imus. But the details of the account vary.

In published accounts, Forras, at various times, has said he was at Ground Zero for 17 days, 28 days, more than a month, and three weeks. At times, he has said he arrived on Sept. 11, other times, on Sept. 12. Official records show his South Salem unit was dispatched to the city on Sept. 12 for several days at the Trade Center site before it was recalled at the request of the FDNY. (Forras says that his account hasn't changed, and that the differences were caused by reporters.)

In a videotaped talk with motivational preacher Joel Osteen posted to his website, Forras says he got trapped under the rubble at Ground Zero. In the video, he says left the group he was with and shimmied down a beam and along a crawl way, and then got stuck.

In a September, 2006 interview, he says he was scaling the pile, when he fell into an abyss and was wedged "like a cork" at the bottom. In this account, he says he was burning and his boots were melting. In an interview with the UK Telegraph in 2006, he says a beam gave way, causing his fall. In June 2004, he claimed a pile of rubble collapsed on him, pushing him to the basement level. He has claimed he was trapped 60 feet below ground, and that he fell 60 feet.

He has claimed he simply rejoined his work crew once he escaped without telling them what had happened.

At some point during his ordeal, he tells Osteen, he had a vision from God and promised to dedicate himself to charity if he survived. In a pre-2004, five-page statement he wrote for the town supervisor of South Salem, and filed as part of the lawsuit, Forras does not at all mention that he was trapped in the rubble. Instead, he says his revelation to help people came after he found "a woman's hand with a wedding ring on her finger."

Along the way, Forras has left behind some strained relationships among people who have worked with him. Many of these people doubt his dramatic account of 9/11.

FDNY Battalion Chief Daniel Sheridan, a 25-year veteran who spent seven months at Ground Zero, briefly worked with Forras, and cut ties with him after becoming suspicious about his claims. The final straw came when he learned Forras was using the e-mail address, ""

"What really irks me is that the New York City Fire Dept. is a very selective group; you can't just walk in," he says. "The fact is that he's been using the FDNY, and doing it on the backs of the 343 firefighters who we lost, makes it worse. I believe that parts of his story are a total fabrication. I don't know how this guy lives with himself."

Hayde, the FDNY battalion chief with the elite Rescue battalion, briefly served on the board of Forras' charity before he, too, cut ties with him.

"He was less than up front about the organization and he purported himself to be something that he wasn't," Hayde says. "He told people he was a New York Fire Chief. In the context of 9/11 people assume he was FDNY, and he would let people believe it."

Hayde says the last straw was when he traveled to a Gear Up fund-raiser in Illinois, sponsored by local fire departments and the mercantile exchange. Forras showed up in a generic fire uniform covered in medals and gold braid.

"This guy comes walking in like he's Santa Anna or Admiral Halsey," Hayde recalled. "They were the kind of medals you got if you bought them at a store and stuck them on your jacket."

Hayde says he did some checking, and learned things that troubled him. "He didn't seem to have any visible means of support," Hayde says.

Hayde added that he never got involved in Gear Up's finances, so he couldn't specifically say whether the money went to a good use or not.

Hayde's account of the Chicago fund-raiser is confirmed by Joe Cantafio, a Chicago-based musician who often performs at 9/11 and military events. Cantafio says he was never paid for his performance, nor was the convention hall where the event was held. Cantafio, too, cut ties with Forras when he learned Forras was running for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. Cantafio believes Forras was never trapped.

"This guy is a publicity hound," Cantafio says. "He has this foundation, but he stepped over a big line. He put himself in the same boots as the New York City firefighters."

Several years ago, Forras bought several dozen full-size 9/11 flags from a Connecticut charity run by John Michelotti. Michelotti says Forras promised to pay him, but never did and refused to return his phone calls.

"If he called me and said, 'I'm broke,' I'd say fine," Michelotti says. "But he just blew me off. I called him several times, and I was very surprised that he avoided my calls." (Michelotti recently found himself under criticism for selling the flags for profit. He has since restructured as a nonprofit.)

Forras says that he has contacted the IRS to straighten out the loss of the Gear Up tax exemption, which he attributed to "letting things lapse" for three years.

Forras insists without equivocation that his account of Ground Zero has never changed. He accused his critics of having their own agenda. He also characterized several Voice questions as "stupid."

After the Voice quoted excerpts to him from articles that he had been featured in, where the details appeared to change, Forras attributed those differences to the reporters who wrote the articles, rather than what he actually said.

"My story has not changed one iota over all the years," he says. "If they are taking my words in an interview, and changing them, that's one thing, but my story has not wavered. The idiots who accuse me of stuff better have some ammunition to accuse me of it."

Forras went on to say, "I can't fathom why anyone would criticize a charity that has donated many trucks and hundreds of sets of fire gear over the years. All the money that went into Gear Up was my personal funding. I wonder why it threatens people so much that people did their best at Ground Zero, and always show praise to all the different organizations that served there," he added.

Of Michelotti, he says he returned the flags, and added, "I'm proud to be on his wall of shame."

So, is the New York State Attorney General's office investigating Forras? "While we cannot comment on ongoing or potential matters before the office, we encourage anyone with information to please contact our office," says spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua.


I wanted to share this PIECE OF garbage hit piece that was released on line by these losers at The Village (idiot) Voice earlier this week. I believe that there are several HIDDEN reasons why they did this, first being that one of the FDNY guys quoted is lining his pockets with tens of thousands of dollars from Ecuador selling used equipment and training to the same folks that we DONATE 100 percent of all we acquire to. This same guy, Dan Sheridan was with me when we started Gear Up, after he knew me and my story, strange how he then thought I was worthy of his friendship … Unfortunately he wanted to SELL product to Ecuador NOT DONATE IT, so we parted ways… not what they reported in the story. I also believe that my political beliefs and public comments also are not in line with what certain folks like so they decided to fabricate an entire story with ZERO facts that attempt to harm me personally along with our foundation. Commenting on why the former President would be cheered while the sitting President would be BOO'D is what I believe would happen this year at Ground Zero. My comments on the disgrace of uninviting the clergy to the Ten Year Memorial, no matter ones belief, is something right out of The Twilight Zone. I will leave the decisions to you and those who have known me all these years.

Funny how Gear Up Foundation have NO salary people, no one who ever gets paid for what they do including design work, web stuff and much much more… my personal funds from the beginning not to mention our time and dedication to helping those who need it most for FREE… The funds, quite massive amounts when I think about it, were taken from any money I received from my retirement from the business I ran for nearly twenty years. In addition, the money I received from my dear mom's passing in 2003 were also applied directly to the mission at Gear Up along with money I received from medical settlements and the South Salem Fire Department law suit victory. The article stated that I received a whopping 80k settlement from Victims Compensation Fund as an award for my health problems incurred at Zero. Doesn't that in itself prove that I was there and got sick since the screening process for being included in that fund were onerous at proof of service had to include photos, signed affidavits and more. These included statements from FDNY commander, NYPD captain, Port Authority officer and more…. Hmmm, I guess they didn't really check fully. As an aside, I handed my x-wife the ENTIRE AMOUNT along with the house we both owned to insure that she could best take care of herself and our children!

My medals were all earned and bestowed upon me including the medal the President gave me after I presented him with my most precious Meritorious Service Award given to me by Chief Lombardi for my service, the medal that I received from HRM The Queen Of England (Jubilee Medal) because of my BRITISH/American citizenship, and a medal that I was the first and only to receive from my fire department in it's history for my service at Ground Zero, not to mention the many medals received from heads of state of nations that we have helped over the years through the mission of Gear Up Foundation. Why do I have medals? Because someone believed I earned them…..

My story has been vetted for nearly 10 years and is 100 percent accurate and true. For some reason there are those who are threatened by a volunteer firefighter who proudly answered the call on 9/11 2001 …. served, left his multi million dollar a year defense contracting group and fulfilled my dedication to God and helping those in need…. I look forward to sharing more personal stories on how I put myself and my family at great personal risk during Iraq 1 and turned down millions of dollars offered to me if I sold out my country. Instead I decided to help our officials and sting those who wanted our technology and were willing to pay a very high price for it. The majority of individuals and companies did NOT have the same love of country and did indeed sell out our nation form money. I testified against these "bad-guys" under witness protection because I love our nation more than life itself. I did the same in the late 90's vs Russia when so called diplomats were also trying to do BAD things against our nation and offering business owners lots of money for their services and I volunteered to nail them as well, devoting tremendous amounts of personal time and resources to do so …. Oh, did I mentioned that my example produced a son that continues to serve in the US Marines and much more???

What is it that these guys don't like?, and more importantly, how can someone from this publication blindly publish something so one sided and completely false about Gear Up and me personally? Was it because I decided that this nation is on the wrong track and answered the clarion call highlighted by the Tea Party movement prompting me to run for the US Senate in CT? Was it because I spoke in DC in front of more than 1 million people about all Americans answering the call together and doing so UNDER GOD? I have heard back from lots of those who have given us their time and dedication along with those who we have helped and they continue to fill me and my heart with love and reassurance. I especially took exception to this so called reporter telling me that "YOU SOUND LIKE YOURE PERFECTLY HEALTHY", why do you claim you are ill from your service at Ground Zero? I responded, "Thanks doctor, I feel much better knowing that in your professional opinion that I am fine and all those meds I take and surgeries that I have had are now in the past!"

My public comments made after my service at Ground Zero were amongst the first publicly released that linked exposures to the toxic air at Ground Zero with terrible illnesses that were to come. My comments were covered by NBC and MSBC along with other media nationally and my public comments sparked an aggressive move by my former fire department to silence me and those comments. I filed a lawsuit against them as a department and individually which was settled by them at a very large cost to them for actions against me and my children. In the end all of my comments were proven to be true and countless fellow first responders and every day citizens have come down with terrible illnesses and death. I believed then and continue to believe that WE THE PEOPLE have a right, more so, an obligation to SPEAK FREELY and from the heart about such things especially when they affect so many who put their lives on the line. I have and continue to speak loudly in support of ALL THOSE who served in response to the 9/11 attacks, not just the FDNY. The fact that I have equated ALL who served with something extra ordinary in some way seems to have offended certain members of that department who believe that 9/11 was their own personal and private disaster. I believe that it was an event shared by all those who answered the call along with all Americans who did whatever they could in support of those who served, even if it was merely a prayer. I have spoken in DC in front of more than one congressional panel, not for me personally but on behalf of all those who don't have a voice including those poor folks who were sent in to "clean" the offices and surrounding buildings, many of whom are now extremely sick.

I find it extremely challenging and insulting that recounting my story of turning Tragedy into Triumph or Tribute, or as Joel Osteen put it in his flattering production that I was so honored to be a part of, 'Dare to Conquer', just because I include GOD as the KEY to it all is a BAD THING? or something I shouldn't share or believe? I believe with all my heart that my story validates perhaps the most important question that many folks have, some who are getting on in years, others who have terminal illnesses or others who are facing terrible challenges in their every day lives that put them at the edge. Why not have something much greater than all of us to believe in … something to validate the existence of God himself and that, as in my case, when we humble ourselves to God and turn to him that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE and that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE ….. Is this something that we need to muzzle ????? NO, I don't believe that for a second…

I have never been exposed to such vial and biased questioning in all these years and hope that this backfires in their collective faces...

I hope that you feel the same… I ask that you, my dear friend Rita and Tom and all of my dear friends who I have copied keep us in your prayers especially this week as it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders….

Blessings and hope that we have a chance to break bread together soon.


1 posted on 09/05/2011 5:28:13 PM PDT by RaceBannon
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To: RaceBannon; stowaway; jjm2111; Mrs.LoneGOPinCT; underbyte; badbackman; Bigfitz; mcswan; ...




2 posted on 09/05/2011 5:31:40 PM PDT by RaceBannon (Ron Paul is to the Constitution what Fred Phelps is to the Bible.)
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To: RaceBannon; stowaway; jjm2111; Mrs.LoneGOPinCT; underbyte; badbackman; Bigfitz; mcswan; ...




3 posted on 09/05/2011 5:31:58 PM PDT by RaceBannon (Ron Paul is to the Constitution what Fred Phelps is to the Bible.)
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To: RaceBannon

Vinny can always sue them. Right? He could win, and prove the truth.

4 posted on 09/05/2011 5:33:03 PM PDT by Palter (Celebrate diversity .22, .223, .25, 9mm, .32 .357, 10mm, .44, .45, .500)
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To: RaceBannon; stowaway; jjm2111; Mrs.LoneGOPinCT; underbyte; badbackman; Bigfitz; mcswan; ...




5 posted on 09/05/2011 5:33:25 PM PDT by RaceBannon (Ron Paul is to the Constitution what Fred Phelps is to the Bible.)
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To: RaceBannon

He should sue

He is a private citizen, he isn’t a public figure.

6 posted on 09/05/2011 5:36:31 PM PDT by dila813
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To: RaceBannon

Nowadays communist PC moto is self defense viewed as a profit. how about that.

7 posted on 09/05/2011 6:16:52 PM PDT by JudgemAll (Democrats Fed. job-security Whorocracy & hate:hypocrites must be gay like us or be tested/crucified)
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To: RaceBannon

I’ve seen both military faker-foolers and 9/11 pile-worker faker-foolers. I can’t speak to the veracity of Mr. Forras’ story. Perhaps he should sue the Village Voice if he is being libeled.

8 posted on 09/06/2011 3:05:41 PM PDT by jjm2111
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To: jjm2111

Well, I know Vinny, I have had dinner over his house, with his family in NYC, talk on the phone frequently, too

9 posted on 09/06/2011 4:38:39 PM PDT by RaceBannon (Ron Paul is to the Constitution what Fred Phelps is to the Bible.)
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To: RaceBannon

Good for you Race. Why don’t you contribute funds to his libel suit then.

10 posted on 09/07/2011 6:52:16 AM PDT by jjm2111
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To: jjm2111

Judging your pleasant response, I am sure you will join with me, right?

11 posted on 09/07/2011 4:13:19 PM PDT by RaceBannon (Ron Paul is to the Constitution what Fred Phelps is to the Bible.)
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To: RaceBannon

Considering you called me an idiot on the Halal thread merely for disagreeing with you while denigrating my service in the process, your vouching for this guy actually lowers my opinion of him.

He’s probably one of those “embellishers” that I come across in the military/veteran world. Never really lying, but always dropping the “right” words and letting civilians draw their own erroneous conclusions.

12 posted on 09/08/2011 6:08:37 AM PDT by jjm2111
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To: jjm2111

thanks for sharing

13 posted on 09/08/2011 9:03:50 AM PDT by RaceBannon (Ron Paul is to the Constitution what Fred Phelps is to the Bible.)
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