Elizabeth Albanese

The Press Club of Dallas has been a much-respected institution for years, offering the annual Katie awards to journalists for high quality work. Recently, though, the organisation’s reputation has been dealt a crippling blow, with the news that their recent president, Elizabeth Albanese, has been falsifying the award results for at least the past two years.

Albanese became involved with the Katies in 2003, the year she first won prizes, and has been reportedly tampering with the results every year since.

For the 2003 awards, unlike following years, a list of judges for the awards was provided. However, it appears that Albanese and her husband had access to each judge’s nominations for weeks before the ceremony, which certainly gave them the opportunity to alter them. Albanese won two awards.

In 2004, Albanese was acting as co-chair for the awards. Tom Stewart, the new president of the Press Club, has told reporters that the list of judges for that year cannot be found.

The judges for the 2005 and 2006 awards have been equally elusive. For the 2006 results, even the entries are missing. Volunteers packed them, and loaded them into Albanese’s car. After that, what happened to them is a mystery. Albanese claims that her husband’s company shipped the forms, but there are no records of this happening, and no-one but Albanese, and possibly her husband, know where they went. Tom Stewart is quoted as saying ”I wish to hell I knew. Greatest mystery to me. For all I know they’re in the damn Trinity River.”
Albanese won four awards that year - the most given to anyone.

Albanese was a social woman, slipping stories of her fascinating life into stories she told her friends.
These included:
*that she had a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas
*being born in Ireland, then moving to New York as a child
*being diagnosed with bone cancer, forcing the family to move to Houston so she could get treatment
*that her mother was a fashion model in New York
*that her father had been assistant manager at Plaza Hotel, and the family lived there
*that she had been a University of Texas cheerleader
*that she had married to Greek basketball player who had died in a car accident
*that she had worked for CNN during the first gulf war
*that she had a Harvard Law degree

What is known of her, much of which contradicts these tales, is this. Lisa Jeanne Albanese was born in White Plains, New York. When her working class family moved to a refinery town near Houston, her father worked in a car dealership. The only high school where she grew up has no record of her graduating, she never graduated college, and she did not even attend Harvard Law School. The family never lived in the Plaza. Albanese has a record of mental illness and delusional behaviour, and also a criminal record. In 1994, she was arrested for writing a bad check for a second-hand car. When the charge was entered into the system, it was discovered she was wanted in Texas for theft of two aeroplane tickets.

In February of 2007, Durhl Caussey - Albanese’s own choice for head of the club’s finance committee - was sent to pick up the financial records from Mac Duvall, their former bookkeeper. This proved to be a big mistake for Albanese. Duvall had proof of over $10,000 racked up on the club’s credit card. Between February and December of 2006, Albanese had been treating the card as if it were her own, blowing hundreds of dollars at a time on clothes, flights and hotel rooms. Duvall also showed Caussey records of the hundreds of emails he had sent Albanese regarding the club’s finances - emails that had never been shown to the rest of the board. Little wonder, with that sort of evidence, that Albanese had spoken to the board about firing Duvall. Caussey phoned Albanese for an explanation, whereupon she claimed it had been an honest mistake, and that she had paid back all the money. The records, however, showed that she still owed the club $3,000.

March 13th, 2007, became a showdown between Albanese and her doubters. At the meeting on this date, Durhl Caussey handed out copies of her credit card transactions to all the board members. Reactions were divided, with her supporters becoming angry at the ambush.
This was the point where Rand LaVonn, president of the Press Club Foundation stepped in. He made one request - “Please identify the judges for the 2006 Katie Awards and provide proof.”
Albanese claimed to not remember who the judges were, but promised to hand over a list of shipping labels to which the entries had been sent. Following the meeting, she told Meredith Dickenson - who considered her a friend - that she had destroyed the list, and was not going to provide any information. She made good on that statement. When Dickenson phoned her to ask about the judges, Albanese came up with strings of excuses - her husband had the labels and was out of town; she couldn’t call him as they didn’t talk when he was on business; she’d replaced her laptop without transferring the files…

Eventually, Albanese did provide a list of judges for the 2006 awards. However, the press club do not believe that the list is real. Some of the phone numbers didn’t work, one was answered by a hospital in Tennessee, and no-one has ever come forward to say they had been involved in the judging.

The club have no proof that any judging took place from 2004 until 2006 and, if that is the case, nearly 600 awards were handed out at Albanese’s whims. Several of her staunch defenders were winners in that timeframe.

Sadly, it looks like the Press Club of Dallas may have to bring to a close the annual award ceremony. Doing so will lose the monetary support the club used to rent its office space and to pay for journalistic scholarships. Some are still hoping that the awards may be revived but, for 2007, their future seems in doubt.

(Thanks to Kathleen for the story, and Madmouse for help with the post.)

Con Artists Identity/Imposters Journalism Law/Police/Crime

Posted on Mon Jun 25, 2007


This is a really bizarre story. Reading the full article Kathleen linked to in the forums was quite interesting.

Good job putting all this together, Boo (and MadMouse). 😊
Posted by Tah  in  Idaho (Yes, Idaho)  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  05:40 PM
What's next, the New York Times printing false stories, doctored photos, invented quotes, etc? Oh, wait, they've been caught doing that already. I guess the rot in the new biz is spreading.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  07:11 PM
I am personally amazed at the amount of information that was dug up on this woman to disprove her claims. A vast treasure trove of gotcha. Well done, in the true spirit of investigative debunkers of days gone by. Why, I recall the time I received an honorarium from Oxford for my work at the 1921 Ectoplasmic Symposium at Stonehenge, ably assisted by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. Sir Artie helped me invest my modest financial salute in stocks issued by an upstart aviator, the famous Howard Hughes. Also, my Dad invented strawberry-banana jello, and the Good Season salad dressing cruet. Ah, memories
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  09:40 PM
Surely someone who who sees ballot papers of nominees, or has anything to do with judges, or is president of the awards committee, should be automatically excluded from winning an award? I should have thought that was plain common sense?

I do have a secret chuckle though, that this woman has managed to fool so many 'high-quality journalists' for so long - they failed to spot the story going on right under their noses.
Posted by Nona  on  Tue Jun 26, 2007  at  06:42 AM
Harry, every so often some "Viet Nam Vet" gets into the news because he was a sniper or assassin or whatever and is now turning his life around from drugs etc. Except the VFW and other organizations always show them to be frauds. The news media almost never admits they were wrong on this. 60 Minutes still stands by their liar. And it was even easier to discredit them than it was this woman. People with power never seem to want to admit error in the use of that power. Come to think of it, CNS still claims the forged Bush military paperwork is real. And that was SO obvious. People believe what they want to believe.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Wed Jun 27, 2007  at  08:24 PM
I am thrilled to bits to get my very first MoH citation. To BITS, I tell you.

I join those who find themselves confused as to how such a thing could happen, but then again...you don't really expect someone you consider to be a colleague and a friend to be scamming you. Not even when you are a reporter. I am not one any longer, but I was for a long time, and believe it or not, most are just as human as the rest of the population.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Thu Jun 28, 2007  at  01:32 PM
This story would be even more interesting if the Katie were really a highly-respected award.
It's more a case of the establishment news institutions in the Dallas area getting together and awarding themselves (or, at least awarding each other within a fairly small and incestuous circle) a bunch of prizes for generally mediocre (and not infrequently less than mediocre) news coverage. Think of this: The Dallas Press Club gave out nearly 200 "Katies" per year. Do you really think one city (OK, one major metropolitan region, then) has 200 outstanding, superlative, prizeworthy examples of journalism every year?

Of course, Elizabeth Albanese did cut out several intermediaries by simply giving the awards to herself instead of swapping awards with her friends in the usual reciprocal arrangement, but the end result wasn't really all that different.

I'm inclined to think almost all awards have been irreparably cheapened simply by the huge proliferation of awards in recent decades. I can give myself an award for being the best Big Gary on my block, or Cranky Media Guy can give me the award while I give him one for being Best Cranky Media Guy, but either way, who really cares?

Albanese's tales about all her fantastic exploits, on the other hand, are something else again. She could make a pretty entertaining dinner companion, as long as you could be sure she wouldn't follow you home.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sun Jul 01, 2007  at  03:15 PM
Big Gary: Be careful when talking about things you know nothing of. The Katies were open to journalists throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico. There are thousands of newspapers, magazines, TV stations, etc., in this area. Yes, there are more than 200 superlative contributions from this group.

I know Elizabeth Albanese. She is a friend of mine. You would be honored if she followed you home. I would like to nominate you for the Biggest Horse's Butt In Deep East Texas.
Posted by Max Edison, MD  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  12:16 PM
Unlike Gary, I am quite sure the Katies are very important awards -- they affect a lot of hardworking people in a lot of states. It is this importance that, if she did what it is alleged that she did, makes Elizabeth Albanese's misdeeds so harmful and significant.
Posted by Kathleen  in  Indiana, USA  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  12:40 PM
I know I'd sure be honored if a proven fraud followed me home. I could put her on display and charge admission!
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  01:17 PM
you might actually get more paying customers to see The Biggest Horse's Butt in Deep East Texas. "I visited the B.H.B.in D.E.T and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt". Curate that museum... I dare ya
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  03:59 PM
"Honored"? Interesting.
Posted by Kathleen  in  Indiana, USA  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  04:23 PM
Well, Max Edison, M.D., it's certainly open to debate whether or not my opinion of the Katie awards is well-founded, but I don't think you can support your claim that I know "nothing" about them. I've lived in Dallas since Lyndon Johnson was President, and worked in journalism for a number of those years. I've never been a member of the Dallas Press Club, but I'm personally acquainted with a fair number of its members and I've visited the club itself more than once. I never entered the award competition, for the reasons I already said. Even if I had wanted to, I probably would have been too busy.

If I do receive the Biggest Horse's Butt In Deep East Texas Prize, at least I can claim to have an honor that isn't shared by thousands of other people (or even other horses, come to think of it).

And at least I know enough not to claim to be friends with a notorious thief and con artist.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sun Jul 08, 2007  at  02:22 PM
Big Gary,

No need to get into a debate with Max Edison. Max Edison is/was her long-dead epileptic dog.
Posted by Anonymous  on  Tue Dec 11, 2007  at  04:43 PM
When I got married in 1990 my best man and his girl friend came on the cruise, it was Alyssa Albanese. They lived in Clear Lake and he met her through a college newspaper she was working on when he responded to an article she wrote. Throughout the trip her dad was a Big Lawyer, owned a car dealership, and was a 5 star chef. My wife won the high jackpot one day and was posted on the boat, Alyssa claimed to win 5 times that. Afterwards that summer he went to some Space school in France, he worked at NASA. She ran up his bills and emptied his checking account. All while claiming she was a stringer for a local TV station in Houston. I always wondered what happened to make this bright charming attractive woman such an incredible liar. She is still doing it and doing it well it seems.
Posted by ed  on  Wed Dec 12, 2007  at  02:41 PM
I figured she was a fraud back in 1990 when she was telling me of a photo shoot she had just returned from where she had to hang out of a helicopter to shoot (potentially award winning photos) for VOGUE MAGAZINE. Unfortunately, the photo shoot was cut short because she had to fill in for the News Anchor in Houston, which is why she had dyed her hair blonde - to better resemble Shara Fryer (the News Anchor she was allegedly the back up for). This occurred during the time frame she had a cancerous tumor removed from her breast with such minimal surgery scarring, her boyfriend couldn't even detect and ALL THE WHILE, her abusive ex-boyfriend (later determined to potentially be her former husband) was stalking her and had even "roughed her up" a few times!
Posted by "Alyssa Skeptic" back in 1990  on  Sun Dec 16, 2007  at  11:08 AM
We initially had "hit it off" because she allegedly was a 'scholarship winning prolific violinist' from the school system I was at the time teaching in -------when I asked the High School Orchestra Director about her, he simply raised his eyebrows and stated that she could sure spin a story! La Porte music educators are among the best anywhere but jeez, award winning violinist, photographer, news reporter, oh - I didn't even mention the modeling career........
Yep, and many highly regarded and highly educated people believed it all, including me!
Posted by "Alyssa Skeptic"  on  Sun Dec 16, 2007  at  11:20 AM
I went to high school with "Alyssa" or "Elizabeth" but her name is really Lisa. She once told me that she was going to be a lawyer at Touchstone Films. I do not think I would want her to follow me home either. After she stole all of her fiance's money, I knew for sure she was a fraud. Who is the butt now Dr.?
Posted by Laughing in La Porte  on  Sun Dec 07, 2008  at  04:53 PM
Well it seems that lisa is still up to her old tricks. That psycho chick has been lying and stealing from people her whole life. Her criminal record goes back over 20 years. She has left a string of bankrupt men the whole way. I can't beleive someone actually married her. She must not have taken him for broke until after he married her. She is going to pull her game on the wrong person one day and end up dead.
Posted by anonymous  on  Wed Jul 08, 2009  at  11:15 AM
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