James Hogue

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James Arthur Hogue
James Hogue.webp
Born (1959-10-22) October 22, 1959 (age 62)
Other names
  • Jay Mitchell Huntsman
  • Alexi Indris-Santana
EducationUniversity of Texas at Austin, University of Wyoming, Princeton University
OccupationCon man
Known forEntering Princeton University under a false identity.

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

Early life[edit]

Hogue was raised in a working-class family in Kansas City, Kansas, and graduated from Washington High School in 1977.[1]

Hogue attended the University of Texas at Austin in the 1980s, but left without a degree.[1] He also attended community college.[2] In the late 1970s, he was a student at the University of Wyoming before dropping out when he did not perform well on the cross country team.[2][3][4]

Criminal career[edit]

In September 1985, Hogue, now 25 years old, stole the identity of a deceased infant and enrolled as a student at Palo Alto High School as Jay Mitchell Huntsman, a 16-year-old orphan from Nevada.[5] On October 7, 1985, Hogue entered the Stanford Invitational Cross Country Meet.[5] Hogue ran far ahead of the field and won the race, but did not report to the officials' table, arousing suspicion.[5] Due to his mysterious background and physical prowess, local sports reporters dubbed him the "Mystery Boy".[3] Jason Cole, a reporter covering the event for the now-defunct Peninsula Times Tribune, uncovered Hogue's identity theft, and Hogue left town.[6]

In 1987, Hogue applied to Princeton University, using the alias Alexi Indris-Santana, a self-taught orphan from Utah, where he was then living. Hogue's application materials claimed that he had lived outdoors in the Grand Canyon, raising sheep and reading philosophy books.[7] Princeton invited Hogue to attend in the fall of 1988, but he deferred admission for one year, telling Princeton his mother was dying.[3] In reality, Hogue had pled guilty to possessing stolen bicycle equipment, and had been sentenced to five years in prison.[4]

Hogue served nine months before being paroled from Utah State Prison in March 1989.[4] Having also received a financial aid award from Princeton, he immediately left for the college, in violation of the terms of his parole.[1] For the next two years, he lived as Santana, was a member of the track team, and was admitted into the Ivy Club, one of Princeton's most exclusive eating clubs.[5]

His real identity was exposed when Renee Pacheco, a former classmate from his days as "Jay Huntsman" at Palo Alto High School, recognized him. She contacted reporter Jason Cole, who exposed Hogue a second time. On February 26, 1991, Hogue was arrested in class and charged with forgery, theft, and falsifying records.[8] In October 1992, Hogue pled guilty to third-degree theft for taking more than $22,000 in scholarship money and was sentenced to nine months in jail.[8] Hogue served 134 days in jail.[9]

At some point in 1992, Hogue was briefly employed by the Harvard Mineralogical Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a part-time cataloguer.[9] At the time, Hogue was taking a course in mineralogy at the Harvard Extension School.[9] In April 1993, the museum discovered that gems, mineral specimens, microscopes, and other items worth $50,000 had disappeared, and suspected Hogue as the result of a tip.[9]

On May 10, 1993, police arrested Hogue in Somerville, Massachusetts, and charged him with grand larceny.[9] On May 26, 1993, Harvard police returned to Hogue's Somerville apartment and recovered $600 in electronic equipment reported stolen from a New Jersey electronics firm where Hogue worked in the summer of 1992.[10] In June 1993, Hogue was charged with two counts of larceny and one count of receiving stolen property by the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office.[10] Hogue's theft was one of the largest in the history of the Harvard University Police Department.[10]

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. After 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.[11] He was later incarcerated in the Mercer County Correctional Center on a conviction for defiant trespass.[citation needed]

Hogue was released from prison in 1997 and vanished from the public eye.[citation needed] Between 1997 and 2003, Hogue was arrested at least twice for theft.[12]

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."[13] He was apprehended in Tucson, Arizona, on February 4, 2006, by Deputy United States Marshal Richard J. Tracy Jr.[14][15] and deputies from the Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff's department while Hogue was sitting in a Barnes & Noble cafe, surfing the internet.[citation needed]

On March 12, 2007, Hogue pled guilty to theft, in return for limiting his sentence and dropping additional charges.[16] He was released on probation in 2012.[citation needed]

On November 3, 2016, Hogue was arrested in Aspen on a misdemeanor theft warrant from Boulder County, Colorado.[17] Aspen police discovered Hogue living in an illegally constructed, camouflaged shack on Aspen Mountain,[12] and possibly in the midst of building a second illegal structure on the mountain.[17] Hogue gave a false name when apprehended and may be charged with criminal impersonation.[17]

In popular media[edit]

In 1999, filmmaker Jesse Moss tracked Hogue down in Aspen, Colorado, to interview him for a documentary. Moss was a student at Palo Alto High School when Hogue enrolled as a student using a false name. The completed film, entitled Con Man, was released in 2003.[3][12]


  1. ^ a b c Barron, James; Farber, M.A. (March 4, 1991). "Tracing a Devious Path to the Ivy League". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Lear, Chris (September 22, 2008). "The Almost Too Strange to be True Story of Alexi Santana". Runner's World. Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. Retrieved October 18, 2021. Alexi Indris Santana was born under the name James Hogue, but that was only the first of many aliases he adopted through his life so far. After a successful high school career in Kansas City in which he set a national record in the 4-mile, he headed to the University of Wyoming. Unsuccessful on the cross country team, he dropped out and that's when his life got interesting. He enrolled briefly at a community college, was arrested for theft in Texas. He re-enrolled in a California high school, under a different name, pretending to be a 16 year-old senior. He was discovered, and arrested briefly again ... the story goes on. and on.
  3. ^ a b c d Stannard, Matthew B. (March 18, 2002). "Documentary probes life of 'Mystery Boy' / Filmmaker and ex-classmate analyzes drifter who duped Palo Alto High, Princeton". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved October 18, 2021 – via SFGate.
  4. ^ a b c Leduc, Daniel (March 1, 1991). "Marathon Hoax: Track Star, Liar, Ex-Princeton Student In Jail". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d Samuels, David (August 20, 2001). "The Runner". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved October 18, 2021. He woke up one morning and decided to become someone else.
  6. ^ Lofholm, Nancy (March 25, 2006). "The con artist next door". The Denver Post. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  7. ^ Gamble, Luke (March 1, 2016). "The unbelievable story of the imposter who came to Princeton". The Tab. Tab Media Ltd. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Princeton 'Student' Gets Jail Sentence". The New York Times. Associated Press. October 25, 1992. Section 1, Page 38. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Bogus Princeton Student Held in New Crime". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 16, 1993. Section 1, Page 25. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Wright, Andrew L. (June 7, 1993). "Student Indicted for Stealing Gems From Harvard Museum". The Harvard Crimson. The Harvard Crimson, Inc. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  11. ^ "Phony Student Arrested Again at Princeton". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Associated Press. February 25, 1996. Section 1, Page 36. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c Auslander, Jason (November 3, 2016). "Cops: Aspen Mountain shack squatter is notorious con man". The Aspen Times. Swift Communications, Inc. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  13. ^ "Hogue Pleads Guilty to Theft". The Watch. Telluride Daily Planet. March 16, 2007. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  14. ^ Fugitive "Con Man" from Colorado Nabbed in Tucson, United States Marshals Service, February 4, 2006 Archived September 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Abraham, Chad (February 7, 2006). "Mystery man has local ties". The Aspen Times. Swift Communications, Inc. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  16. ^ "Hogue pleads guilty to felony theft charge". The Denver Post. MediaNews Group, Inc. March 17, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via this source: The original url is dead. However, the article at this link, “Three sought in bingo hall robbery”, has a news digest below it that, after some scrolling, reveals a reprint of the article, “Hogue pleads guilty to felony theft charge”. (Searching the page for the word, Hogue, takes one to the article.). This is the relevant quotation: “Hogue pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft of more than $15,000 by receiving. In exchange for the plea, other theft charges and a habitual criminal charge were dropped.”
  17. ^ a b c Auslander, Jason (November 3, 2016). "Con man arrested at Pitkin County Library". The Aspen Times. Swift Communications, Inc. Retrieved October 20, 2021.