Man who exposed swim coach's past speaks

Questions surround coach's resume and family

SAN DIEGO - The man who exposed a local swim coach's criminal past now says he's uncovered more red flags.

In November, James Pantera became certified with USA Swimming as a coach, but that status is now in question.

"I think he completely misrepresented himself on his website," said Mike Saltzstein.

Saltzstein, an Alpine resident and former vice president of USA Swimming, filed a complaint with the group.   

Fourteen years ago, Pantera pleaded guilty to federal charges, including student loan fraud.

After getting bad grades in medical school, Pantera said he hacked into a government computer and created a new identity with the same name and reapplied to medical school with a clean slate.

Eventually, he was caught and spent nine months in prison. He told Team 10 it was a mistake he has paid for.

Saltztein said a background check revealed Pantera has 11 different identities, which Pantera said is connected to the fallout of his case.

"More much recently and troubling are his coaching credentials," said Saltzstein.

Saltzstein said Pantera's claims on his website of being a Level 5 coach, including criteria like coaching 40 All-Americans, is not true.

Pantera said he meant he completed all five courses, and he has since removed it from several online sites.

In the complaint, Saltzstein said Pantera has told wild stories at swim meets of having been a professional soccer and baseball player -- statements Pantera denies.

Saltzstein also questions Pantera's claim that his wife and two teenage children died in a terrorist bombing in Israel in 2005.

"In running his background check, we haven't found children attached to him," said Saltzstein.

Pantera said those accusations are "truly low," but declined to provide Team 10 any evidence about his family or the deaths, saying he wants to keep their memory out of the news.

Saltzstein said Pantera shouldn't be allowed to coach because he'd have access to swimmers' personal information.

San Diego Park & Recreation officials say they don't know why background checks didn't turn up the felony. They also said Pantera won't be allowed to coach a city team.

Pantera said the motive behind Saltzstein's complaint -- Pantera was preparing to file a complaint against Saltzstein for bullying.

Saltzstein said that claim is untrue because he'd been looking into Pantera for awhile, presenting Team 10 with an email he received from a concerned parent in late January.

Print this article Back to Top