AIME founder Anthony Casa to step away after suit over lewd comments
Anthony Casa, founder of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts, "will be taking a leave of absence" from the group, according to a statement that he distributed through AIME.
Casa had been sued for defamation by the wife of a professional rival, Austin Niemiec, an executive vice president at Quicken Loans. The suit filed by Niemiec's wife, Theresa Niemiec, states that Casa made lewd comments about her in a group text exchange.
While not parties to the suit, Kevin Peranio, chief lending officer at Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, and Mount Diablo Lending broker-owner Ramon Walker are named as being looped in on the texts. PRMG released a statement condemning the remarks on Peranio's behalf. Walker could not be reached for comment at deadline.
The suit accuses Casa of further antagonism via suggestive emoji texts after Niemiec's attorney sent a letter demanding he retract his statements. Casa later apologized for the remarks in a video posted on LinkedIn.
He made the following statement regarding his decision to step away from AIME.
"My sincere apologies go out to Theresa Niemiec and her family. As well as the entire broker community and the AIME team who have been impacted by my inexcusable behavior. In the moment, I did not think about how my poor judgement would cast a negative light on so many."
Casa founded AIME in 2018 and was known for being critical of wholesale lenders that create customer competition for brokers, as Quicken does by offering multiple loan channels. Austin Niemiec works within wholesale lending at Quicken.
The Niemiec suit notes that Casa founded a now-defunct website and Facebook group called Brokers Rallying Against Whole-Tail Lending, which defined whole-tail as "lenders that pose as wholesale lenders, but steal business away from brokers by retaining loans and repurposing them for their retail division."
AIME President Marc Summers and Sweeney issued a joint statement regarding Casa's departure from the mortgage broker organization:
"The work of AIME on the behalf of the broker community will not lose momentum or focus. Our members, the mortgage broker community, are the foundation of this association and we will continue to build on the progress and strides we have made together as a team.
"AIME is focused on supporting and serving our in 40,000 members, the growth of the channel and opening the dialogue to have candid conversations about how we can continue to grow together."
In a separate Facebook post, Sweeney added, "The industry and its current leaders have some hard work ahead to ensure women are treated with the same respect as our male counterparts."