Tuesday, May. 26, 2009

James Hogue

A Princeton sophomore in 1991, Alexi Indris-Santana had all the makings of a big man on campus. His tales of growing up as a self-taught ranch hand in Utah and sleeping under the stars with his horse, Good Enough, won over admissions officials. He was taking six or seven courses a semester and earning mostly A's. A talented runner, he had earned glowing local coverage before even arriving on campus, and the Daily Princetonian had asked three times for an interview so they could profile him as an up-and-coming track star. But running would also be Indris-Santana's undoing: at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet in 1991, a Yale senior recognized him from Palo Alto — where he had been caught masquerading as a high school student at age 26.

The promising academic and athletic star, as it turned out, was actually James Hogue, 31, an ex-con from Kansas City, Kansas. He was arrested and charged with forgery, wrongful impersonation and falsifying records. He spent nine months behind bars and had to pay back nearly $22,000 in financial aid. But the Princeton hoax was not Hogue's last: in 1992, he turned up as a guard in one of Harvard's museums, and was arrested after just a few months on the job, charged with grand larceny for stealing gemstones worth $50,000. Violating his probation, Hogue returned to Princeton, posing as a graduate student though he was never enrolled in classes. He made headlines as recently as 2007, when he pleaded guilty to felony theft, having stolen about 7,000 items worth some $100,000 from Colorado homes over several years. He is currently serving a 10-year sentence in prison.