On Feb. 7, James Hogue, famed con man, pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges related to an array of stolen goods after being found living in an illegally-built shack situated on a peak on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.
Hogue once entered the University as an undergraduate student under the alias Alexis Indris-Santana, and later posed as a graduate student using the name Jim MacAuthor. According to The Washington Post, Hogue "wowed the admissions office at Princeton University with his incredible backstory: His father was an artist who died in a car crash, his mother a sculptor dying of leukemia in Switzerland, he wrote."
Now, Hogue faces one to three years in prison for felony theft valued between $2,000 and $5,000, felony possession of burglary tools, and obstruction of police officers — a misdemeanor. Hogue’s plea deal allows for consideration of probation or a halfway house setting.
Police suspect that Hogue had been living in the shack for approximately a year when officers first knocked on his door this September. In that instance, Hogue fled the shack out of a window. Two months later, employees of the Aspen Skiing Company saw that Hogue had begun the construction of yet another cabin in the vicinity. This ultimately led the police to Hogue’s vehicle laden with $17,000 in cash and stolen ski equipment.
This series of crimes adds to Hogue’s three-decade-long history of encounters with the law. With a fabricated story about the tragic loss of his parents, Hogue gained admission to the University in 1987 at age 28. During his time at the University, Hogue had stellar grades, became a member of Ivy Club and the track team, and had friends yearning to hear his intriguing stories and engage in him with conversations. In 1991, Hogue was identified at a Harvard-Yale-Princeton track meet by a competitor who had known Hogue in Palo Alto, where Hogue had previously pretended to be a high school student at age 26.
Several investigations later, Hogue was found to have been an imposter, and was arrested and charged with forgery, wrongful impersonation, and falsifying records. Hogue was sentenced to nine months in prison, and had to pay back $22,000 in financial aid to the University.
Prior to coming to the University, Hogue had served 10 months in the Utah prison system for stealing costly racing bicycle parts from a bicycle shop. After he served his prison sentence in 1991, Hogue worked as a part-time cataloguer for the Harvard Mineralogical Museum in Cambridge, MA, when $50,000 worth of items went missing. Hogue was a prime suspect in this case after investigators received a tip, but he was never charged for that crime. Since then, Hogue has been arrested, violated his probation multiple times, and reappeared in national news in 2007 after stealing $100,000 worth of items from homes in Colorado.
Such a repertoire has earned Hogue a spot among TIME Magazine’s list of “Top 10 Imposters." In making this listing, Hogue joins the ranks of Clark Rockefeller, David Hampton, and others.