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Summit Up

SUMMIT UP

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up the world’s only daily column falsely claiming a Ph.D in bioengineering.Oh wait, that was another mountain-region con artist. Here’s his story …James Arthur Hogue, described as a world-class con artist, has turned up again, this time with a house full of stolen booty at a home in Mountain Village, the slopeside town at Telluride.A film about Hogue, called “Con Man,” debuted in 2003. The film tells how he has flitted from town to town – many of them ski towns – during his adult life. His troubles seem to have begun when he was in college at the University of Wyoming. A very good distance runner, he was upstaged by the arrival of several older, and hence more sturdy runners from Ethiopia. He seems never to have recovered. That was 1979.As related by the Telluride Watch, the 26-year-old Hogue then showed up (with an alias) at a high school in Palo Alto, Calif., where he managed to fit right in – and won a prestigious cross-country meet at Stanford. A suspicious reporter, however, discovered that Hogue was using the name of a person who had died in infancy. He was kicked out of the school. That was in 1985.Soon after, he was teaching running in Vail, where he falsely claimed a Ph.D in bioengineering from Stanford. Then in San Marcos, Calif., he stole $20,000 in goods and tools from a custom bicycle-frame builder. Next in St. George, Utah, he applied to Princeton University, representing himself as an 18-year-old self-educated ranch hand. He got in and also a $15,000 academic scholarship, thanks in part to a combined SAT score of 1410.At Princeton, he excelled at running, academics, and insinuating himself into the social network, joining the exclusive Ivy Club. However, his sophomore year a former classmate at the Palo Alto high school, by then a student at Yale, recognized him at a track meet and alerted police. He was arrested in a geology class.Sentenced to 270 days in jail for his fraudulent admission to Princeton, he was subsequently imprisoned for two years for stealing gems from a lab in Massachusetts. Other inmates said he kept to himself, burying his head in engineering books. By 1997, he was in Aspen, where he was arrested for bicycle theft, and then in 2001 he was in Telluride.In Telluride he disappeared from official view, although The Watch says he most likely was hiding in plain sight, this time once again answering to the older name, James Arthur Hogue. Now, after the discovery of what police said were stolen goods valued at more than $100,000, he has disappeared again.Why? Why all the cons? The filmmaker, Jesse Moss, has several theories: One, after the fiasco in Wyoming, he wanted to run competitively again. Two, he wanted a ticket to America’s ruling class, and, in the great American tradition, he re-invented himself to get there. And three, he loves fooling people. Moss also said that what Hogue did was allow people to create his identity. The more Hogue withheld of himself, the more people invested in him. “This was his true genius for deception, he said.Have you seen this “genius” around town? Take a glance down the bar at the Moosejaw – any suspects?***We’ve got Realtor Scum Alerts!! to hand out, reluctantly. And folks, no names please in the future … take your shot, but do it somewhat anonymously please. We’re protecting the innocent, but scummy, after all.One local recently suffered the loss of her husband unexpectedly. One Realtor, we’ll call him or her Realtor A, sent said grieving local a “mass mailing” from the local real estate company addressed to her dead husband. Honest mistake, but this particular person took it especially hard.To make matters worse, a second Realtor, we’ll call him or her Realtor Z (just to be different), sent the grievous widow a card that read: “Itching to sell your home!”Wow, talk about karma. Realtor Z better beware the impending bubble burst big time.***That’s all we got folks for the fine Thursday. Maybe you’ve got a Realtor trying to sell your dead relatives some property – send us your Scum Alert so we can rectify the situation with some instant karmic retribution in print.You know where to send it: summitup@summitdaily.com or at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13600. Just blather on until the tape runs out …***We out, tailing Realtors who stalk widows for their property, and then pouring sugar into their gas tanks.


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