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Tom Guida, aka Tom Gatto – fake psychologist, fake Special Forces, fake brain cancer patient – is charged with bigamy

Tom Guida, of Toms River, New Jersey, is accused of bigamy.

Tom Guida, of Toms River, New Jersey, is accused of bigamy.

By Donna Andersen

Thomas A. Guida, 52, of Toms River, New Jersey, arrived in court on May 29, 2015 to face a charge of bigamy filed by one of his wives.

Mrs. Guida signed a complaint against him on February 18, 2015, after receiving Facebook messages about another woman he is married to, a woman he was engaged to, and a woman he was cheating with.

Each woman believed she was in an exclusive relationship with Tom Guida, planning a future with a true American hero. They were all wrong.

Tom told all the women that he was a Ph.D. psychotherapist who specialized in traumatic stress and bereavement counseling, going into dangerous situations as a first responder. In reality, he is not licensed for any profession in New Jersey or New York.

Tom displays a diploma showing that he earned a master’s degree in psychology counseling from New York University. It’s a fake — NYU has no record of him. His “Doctorate of Philosophy in Forensic Psychology” comes from Trinity Southern University — a well-known diploma mill.

Tom Guida has a "diploma" from New York University. The college has no record of him.

Tom Guida has a “diploma” from New York University. The college has no record of him.

Tom claimed to be a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, specializing in interrogation, who served multiple special ops tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military has no record of him.

Tom also claimed to be part of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group — special agents with expertise in crisis negotiations, hostage rescue, bomb disposal, surveillance and aviation. The FBI says Tom Guida doesn’t work for them, and never has.

Shortly after Tom met the future Mrs. Guida in 2005, he complained of headaches and told her he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. He gave the same story to two more women, and to his co-workers at a residential psychiatric facility, who took up a collection for him.

With treatment, people who have cancerous brain tumors usually survive one to two years. Ten years after announcing his illness, Tom Guida, still very much alive, walked unassisted into Woodbridge, New Jersey, Municipal Court to be confronted by his wife.

Mrs. Guida was heartbroken when she learned that everything her husband told her was a lie. Now, she says, “I just want to help people stay away from him.”

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Guida

Penny Navarro Guida, right, with Tom Guida.

Mrs. Guida with her husband, Tom Guida.

When the future Mrs. Guida met Tom online in 2005, he struck her as sincere, nice, and not pushy. They soon met in person at a restaurant in Freehold, New Jersey.

“The first date with him was the most romantic I was ever on in my life,” she says. “He was really nice, we talked — I was already hooked.”

Soon, however, Tom told the future Mrs. Guida that he was going to die. “He thought it wasn’t fair for me to be with him because he was sick,” she says.

But she was already in love with this big, strong man who treated her like a queen, and was willing to support him until the end.

“The only way you can be with me is if I take care of all the medical, and you’re not involved in it,” Tom said, according to her.

The future Mrs. Guida agreed to his dying wish, and was soon seeing him three times a week, and exchanging emails and phone calls every day.

After they dated for a few months, she says, Tom told her that he was moving to Raleigh, North Carolina — he had to be there for his Special Ops work, and he’d get treatment for his brain cancer.

She wanted to join him, but her friends and family opposed the move. “They were thinking it was nuts that I would go that far,” she says. “They thought he wasn’t what he said he was.”

The future Mrs. Guida Googled her beau, and nothing came up. “I wanted to be happy,” she says. “I kept believing — and found no proof against him.”

Living a love story

Penny Navarro and Tom Guida married on March 26, 2006.

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Guida married on March 26, 2006.

So she quit her corporate job, cashed in her $10,000 in 401(k) savings, sent her kids to stay with their father for the summer, and over the July 4th holiday, drove with all the belongings that she could fit into her car to North Carolina. She moved into an extended-stay hotel with Tom Guida.

“I felt like I was living a love story,” she says. “It was like a honeymoon for a month.

“Everything seemed normal — except he would leave, and I had no idea where he was going.”

Then Tom told her that he was getting sicker. They decided that if he were going to die, he should be around his family in Staten Island, New York.

Tom, the future Mrs. Guida, and her two children moved into an extended-stay hotel in nearby New Brunswick, New Jersey, she says. But now she was paying for the hotel, dinners and lunches, and soon her money was gone.

Tom then told her they should get married. “I was happy he decided he wanted to do that before he died,” she says.

They married at the Residence Inn in Woodbridge, New Jersey, which was also where they lived, on March 25, 2006.

“My family knew he was dying,” Mrs. Guida says. “I wanted people to know why we were getting married. It was very sentimental. I was the happiest I’d ever been that day.”

Tom and Mrs. Guida didn’t know how they were going to pay for the wedding. They hoped the wedding gifts would cover the cost — but they didn’t.

Secret military missions

In fact, money was a problem throughout their marriage. Mrs. Guida eventually found work. But Tom, she said, was supposedly getting cancer treatments or going on secret military missions, and the government was screwing up his pay.

“I was with him for two and a half years,” Mrs. Guida says. “I had no idea what he did.”

Finally, Tom got a job as a supervising psychologist at the Beacon of Hope House on Staten Island, a transitional housing facility for psychiatric patients.

“It was nice,” Mrs. Guida says. “Finally I could tell people where my husband works.”

Still, she suspected that Tom was lying to her. When she met his family, she learned that her husband was born in 1962 — not 1969, like he told her.

And she asked Tom why his medication bottles had no names on them. Mrs. Guida says Tom answered, “In case someone comes after me from the military, they can’t know the pills are for me.”

Doubting the brain cancer

Mrs. Guida finally went to a counselor about her doubts. The counselor didn’t think Tom was a psychologist. To find out if her husband was really sick, the counselor suggested that she accompany him to his cancer treatment.

“He let me go one time with him to the doctor,” Mrs. Guida says. “I took him to the hospital. He had me stay in the waiting room while they were admitting him. He didn’t want me to hear anything he told the doctor.”

Tom reported that his CAT scan was clear, and the doctors gave him pain pills for his headache.

“You didn’t tell them about the brain tumor?” Mrs. Guida asked.

“I didn’t want them to get all wrapped up with it,” Tom replied, according to her.

At that point, Mrs. Guida thought something was really wrong. The next day, she called her brother, who was the director of a hospital x-ray department.

“You’re his wife,” her brother said. “You can get access to his records.”

Tom agreed to release his records to her. But when Mrs. Guida called the Robert Wood Johnson cancer hospital in New Brunswick, they had no record of Thomas Guida.

Her husband had lied about his terminal brain cancer.

“I was like, shocked,” Mrs. Guida says. “I kind of knew, but I was still in shock. I didn’t want it to be true.”

What else did Guida lie about?

Mrs. Guida told her husband that he had one day to come clean.

Instead of explaining why he lied about the brain cancer, and what else he lied about, he went to work. When Tom got home, all of his belongings were packed.

“He cried when he carried his stuff out,” Mrs. Guida says. “But I was done. I couldn’t deal with it any more. And I felt so relieved. There were things I couldn’t explain — things he would make me say — and I didn’t have to do that anymore.”

“I felt really stupid,” Mrs. Guida continues. “I was so thankful for my family and friends. They were there for me, and forgave me.

“It taught me a lot of things. We had good times. Valentines Day and Christmas were over the top. He taught me a lot about respecting myself. He would say, ‘You earned it, honey. You didn’t understand your potential.’”

The experience left Mrs. Guida “more hurt than angry,” she says.

They broke up in March 2009. Then Mrs. Guida heard from the Internal Revenue Service — because Tom hadn’t filed taxes for years, the government confiscated her tax refund. After that, she stopped communicating with her husband.

Tom Guida, however, was communicating just fine with other women.

(To continue, click 2 below.)

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8 Comments on "Tom Guida, aka Tom Gatto – fake psychologist, fake Special Forces, fake brain cancer patient – is charged with bigamy"

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  1. russconte says:

    Truly amazing work on this case – exceptionally well written – and hopefully this guy will get what he truly deserves.

    A couple of quick notes – My Master’s is in Counseling (and yes, from a fully accredited school – Ohio University in Athens, Ohio), so my interest was perked when I saw he had a degree in “Psychology Counseling”. There is no such major anywhere to the best of my knowledge. The closest I can find is “Counseling Psychology”, but more to the point, I could not find any major in New York University’s list of majors that was an exact match for “Psychology Counseling”. Simply stated, it doesn’t exist.

    His PhD is from Trinity Southern University. Donna wrote that it is a well known diploma mill. As an example, Colby Nolan was awarded an MBA in 2004 by this school. Colby Nolan is a house cat. This sparked a fraud lawsuit by the state attorney general.

    Keep up the excellent work, the more that people know the better they are able to protect themselves from these types of predators. I look forward to seeing what the courts say about this guy. Hopefully the women he scammed will get justice. That would be the best outcome.



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  2. 20years says:

    I highly recommend visiting the blog (linked in the article) started by the women involved with this man, in particular the narrative by Deb, the dating coach. I think she gives a very valuable example of a person who is pretty “together” and savvy about sociopaths, who gets entangled with one without fully realizing, and she shares her thinking and analytic (self-protective) philosophy and process along the way, and how she ended up following gut feelings and testing him, and when he failed her test, she ended the relationship. But she did date him for several months and was definitely in love with him! I am not saying that she did not experience pain and betrayal — however, she seemed kind of inoculated against some of the more extreme reactions that many of us here have experienced. She seemed very able to keep a part of herself from being totally sucked in, and being somewhat “trust but verify” all along the way.

    It was a learning experience for her, and thankfully she is sharing it publicly, so others can learn from it. And, as she herself admits, it will make her a better dating coach, since she has had an up close and personal spath experience.

    So I think she does set a good “role model” type of example, for anyone, how to have spath awareness, how to test a relationship, how to trust, and then finally her own admitting (without shame) that even she (a dating coach) was fooled! I think that too is incredibly validating to any of us who have been on the receiving end of criticism or disbelief by others who consider themselves too smart to fall into the traps that we have fallen into.

    Thank you very much for this article!



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  3. AnnettePK says:

    The hazmat suit (if that is really what it is) in the photo he texted looks way too small on him.

    This article has some useful guidelines about dating and the use of technology in dating. http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/the-gift-of-time-managing-the-pace-of-a-new-relationship



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  4. Jan7 says:

    Hi Donna, this would be a good story to post in your “True Lovefraud stories..case history” section.



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  5. My ex had diplomas also. I didn’t pick up that they were fake until I was looking for something totally unrelated and found all these blank diplomas he had in a box of papers. my ex also told me he had been given 6 months to live (it has been 7 years and he is very much alive and trying to make my life hell) who lies about dying??
    I used to insure his vehicle because he had so many accidents his insurance was sky high. it was my own idea to sign a transfer and tax form so that if anything ever happened to me he could get his truck back in his name. He told me he had lost them and had me sign another one. When he asked me again I became annoyed that he kept losing it. I was going to fill in all the details of the truck yet again and he said not to bother he would do, just sign. In fact he didn’t want to bother me, why not just sign two now. I did.
    months later I run into a friend who tells me he is on the way to the bank to get out money to buy a truck from my common law, I ask what he is buying and he says the Chev pickup. I said, “he doesn’t have a chev pickup, only two Fords.’ We discussed it for a while and he says, he is sure it is a Chev, the yellow one in the back yard. That was MY truck and I said as much. The friend told me he had seen the signed transfer and tax form.
    I caught him years later after we were split backing out the driveway with my truck, I am sure he must have still had a signed transfer and tax form.
    I was with him a total of 10 years and although I had my suspicions, he was a trucker for part of the time and away doing “missionary work” for a year, only coming home for a couple of months one time. he always assured me I was the one woman he loved, he would cry, say my suspicions were driving a wedge between us. I had never been a jealous woman, never spied on the men in my life but I became obsessed with figuring out what he was up to. I knew things didn’t add up.
    It was not until after we split the last time that I found out by reading his journals that he had been living with two other women and was engaged to a woman in africa and had gotten another young woman in Africa pregnant.
    It is especially devastating when you knew in your gut he was lying and he kept making you feel guilty for not trusting him and then you find out you were right all along.
    he even had the nerve to later tell me; once he was engaged to the next victim, that it was my own fault he hurt me, after all i kept taking him back and believing him.
    He was always on dating sites, but we did not meet there. There is never any guarantee, a person just has to listen to their gut instinct. Diplomas can be faked, ID can be faked, pictures of homes, cars etc can all be faked.
    I didn’t think i was naive or stupid; but I kept looking for proof because why would someone lie? They lie because they can, they get off on being able to pull it off. it makes them feel powerful and they get a rush from getting away with it. It’s fun for them. They don’t need any other reason. If they get money in the process great but that is just an added bonus.



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  6. Just heard – Tom Guida walked free — no consequences for committing bigamy. The statute of limitations had expired before Mrs. Guida filed a complaint.



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  7. jm_short says:

    Donna-

    As I told Deb, several months ago, the liklihood that Guida will suffer any significant affect from a bigamy charge is slim to none. In the first place, bigamy carries only a minor penalty of 6 months’ incarceration.

    But each of the women he scammed suffered a far more significant crime. They all endured sexual assault by fraud. As you know, I introduced information about this crime to society by publishing my book that explains it in 2013. And if they spoke up about it, they could help to get the law passed that is pending in New Jersey. Doing so would help spare countless victims from around the world of Tom Guido-like scams.

    I attempted to get them to do so, but they were resistant to come forward on the subject. They could lend tremendous support to the bill that is pending, and help reshape the concept of sexual consent throughout the world.

    Additionally, I’ve been approached by a producer from a major news broadcast who is interested in their story. Any one of them could contact me to make that happen.

    Joyce



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