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Uncertainty About Charlie

Thanks to amazing advances in technology, information now spreads faster than ever. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

Charlie Gilies appears on News 12
Charlie Gilies appears on News 12 (News 12 NJ)

As a result, it’s sometimes next near impossible to determine how much of that message is accurate. There are two sides to every story and while some of you may be quick to judge what I’m about to discuss, I am in no way taking sides. I am just stating facts and my personal observations.

Several months ago, I received a startling e-mail with claims that someone I had trusted might actually not be who they say they are. To make matters worse, said person may have used the backdrop of the horrific events of 9/11 to line his own pockets, gain fame and in essence, lie to the community, the media and to anyone who would listen.

After speaking over the phone with the accuser, I spoke to my news director who followed up with the person in question. That person denied the accusations and left it at that. So did we. It was a done issue for the time being but far from forgotten.

Everything came to a head Monday afternoon when News 12 New Jersey announced they would be running a story from investigative reporter Walt Kane about Charles Giles and how his heroic story may be nothing more than hogwash. Could he be one of the many 9/11 scammers?

I first met Charles Giles the year I began working for WOBM. It was 2006 and our news network was doing a piece for the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. It was a tough story to cover, filled with emotion. It was around this time that Charlie’s health problems began to surface. Hearing the dramatic story of how he was stuck under rubble when the tower came down and pulled to safety by his “guardian angel,” it was hard to hear the tale which played out like a bad Hollywood disaster film.

After the initial meeting and interview, we kept in touch for several years while he worked to raise awareness about the health issues faced by first responders. He was always nice, outgoing and extremely knowledgeable about the event and what happened during the months of cleanup on the pile.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I sat down with Charlie for an extended hour long interview along the Barnegat waterfront. He told me it’s a place he loves to go just to gather his thoughts and relax. He had several financial issues over the past few years, told us he lost his house to foreclosure and takes upwards of 60 medications daily.

He walked with a cane and broke down in tears during several points of the talk – as did I. It was all very emotional. I edited the video for time and clarity and we launched it on our YouTube page.

Fast forward to a few months back. The accuser claims to have tons of information proving that Charlie may have been with Citywide EMS but wasn’t ever inside the tower when it came down, wasn’t pulled from the rubble and didn’t get injured on the job. Even the Port Authority officer who seemingly saved Charlie claims to have never met him or been in the towers.

And now, we are here today on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 and I don’t know what to think. I’ve seen a man who is literally having his name dragged through the mud in the court of public opinion. I think back to the movie 12 Angry Men. The one juror believed the boy was innocent of killing his father and had to convince 11 others that he wasn’t guilty. Charlie really needs to prove himself to everyone. If the accusers are wrong, then what?  What do they have to gain?  Are there any investigations open into this from the attorney general’s office?  Have they taken the information to the proper authorities?

If Charlie is lying then he needs to be prosecuted and answer for what he’s done. But what if he isn’t? His story has always been consistent. Like I said, I don’t know what to believe.

The evidence presented by the accusers to both myself and to News 12 is very convincing. There are people, including Charlie’s former employers, that claim he never worked at Ground Zero on the cleanup and recovery and only suffered some dust and debris and minor burns. There’s also records showing that Charlie’s house wasn’t foreclosed and was actually sold. It really doesn’t look very good but I still don’t know.

If Charlie is lying than shame on him. Toying with everyone’s emotions about such a sensitive issue. But before I pass judgment, I need all the facts first.  And I mean all of them.  Don’t you agree?

We may never know the whole story but as I have told Charlie in the past, you have my number.

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