James Hogue

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For the Australian politician, see James Hogue (politician).
James Arthur Hogue
Born (1959-10-22) October 22, 1959 (age 55)
Kansas City, Kansas
Occupation Con man

James Arthur Hogue (born October 22, 1959) is a US impostor who most famously entered Princeton University by posing as a self-taught orphan.

Early life[edit]

Hogue was born in Kansas City, Kansas and spent his youth there. He attended Washington High School where he set the school records in track for the 1 mile (4:18.4) and 2 mile (9:20.4) in 1977; records that still stand to this day. He has refused to talk about much of his childhood.

Starting his criminal career[edit]

In 1986, now in his late 20's and a dropout from the University of Wyoming, Hogue enrolled in a Palo Alto, California high school as Jay Mitchell Huntsman, a 16-year-old orphan from Nevada. He had adopted the identity of a dead infant. Suspicious local reporter Jason Cole exposed him.[1]

He next enrolled at Princeton University in 1988 using the alias Alexi Indris-Santana, a self-taught orphan from Utah; Hogue claimed in his application materials that he had slept outside in the Grand Canyon, raising sheep and reading philosophers. He deferred admission for one year, not telling Princeton that it was because he was incarcerated after a conviction on the theft of bicycle frames in Utah, though he later violated his parole to enter class. For the next two years he lived as Santana, was a member of the track team and was admitted into the Ivy Club.[2]

His real identity was exposed when Renee Pacheco, a former classmate from his days as "Huntsman" at Palo Alto High School, recognized him. She contacted reporter Jason Cole, who exposed Hogue a second time. Hogue was arrested on February 26, 1991, for defrauding (theft by deception) the university for $30,000 in financial aid and sentenced to three years in jail, with 5 years probation and 100 hours of community service.[3]

Hogue next made headlines on May 16, 1993, through his association with Harvard University. Having lied about his identity again, he was able to take a job as a security guard in one of Harvard's on-campus museums. A few months into his tenure, museum officials noticed that several gemstones on exhibit had been replaced with inexpensive fakes. Police in Somerville, Massachusetts, arrested Hogue in his home and charged him with grand larceny in the amount of $50,000.[4]

Hogue violated the conditions of his parole by returning to Princeton and hanging around the campus using the name Jim MacAuthor; he had not officially enrolled, but had attended social functions and eaten in the cafeteria. When a graduate student recognized him, he was arrested on February 19, 1996 and taken into custody by the Princeton Borough Police – who later released him on his own recognizance. He was later incarcerated in the Mercer County Correctional Center on a conviction for defiant trespass.

Hogue was released from prison in 1997 and vanished from the public eye. In 1999, Jesse Moss, a director making a documentary film about Hogue, tracked him down in Aspen, Colorado and secured his cooperation in making the film. The completed documentary, entitled Con Man, was released in 2003.

In January, 2005, police with a warrant searched Hogue's home in San Miguel County, Colorado, finding 7,000 items, worth over $100,000, stolen from nearby homes where Hogue had worked as a remodeller and repairman. The stolen goods "packed his house and a small secret compartment he'd built." [5] He was apprehended in Tucson, Arizona on February 4, 2006 by Deputy United States Marshal Richard J. Tracy Jr.[6][7] and deputies from the Pima County, Arizona Sheriff's department while Hogue was sitting in a Barnes & Noble cafe surfing the internet.

On March 12, 2007 Hogue pled guilty to theft, in return for limiting his sentence and dropping additional charges.[8] He was released on probation in 2012.


  1. ^ "The con artist next door". Denver Post. March 26, 2006. 
  2. ^ David Samuels (September 3, 2001). "The Runner". The New Yorker: 72–85. 
  3. ^ Superville, Darlene (February 28, 1991). "PRINCETON BOOTS RUNNER, A FAKE WHO`S 31". San Jose Mercury News. pp. Page 1B. 
  4. ^ "Bogus Princeton Student Held in New Crime". New York Times. May 16, 1993. 
  5. ^ Con artist James Hogue pleads guilty to theft[dead link] Telluride Daily Planet, Thursday, March 22, 2007.
  6. ^ Fugitive "Con Man" from Colorado Nabbed in Tucson[dead link], United States Marshals Service, February 4, 2006
  7. ^ Suspect in thefts near Telluride has led life of cons[dead link], Aspen Times News, February 8, 2006.
  8. ^ Hogue pleads guilty to felony theft charge, Denver Post, March 13, 2007.


  • Samuels, David The Runner A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue.

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