american con

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In 1988, Princeton University accepted an orphan with an eye-catching résumé. Seventeen-year-old Alexi Santana hadn’t been to school but had picked up his education while working in Utah as a cattle herder, a construction worker and a racehorse exerciser. He had read Plato while sleeping under the stars. He could be reached only by post office box, he said, because his home address was the Utah-Arizona line. It all sounded very romantic, very Huck Finn. He also had outstanding SAT scores. What clinched the deal, though, was that Santana could run like the wind, and the Princeton track coach saw him as an invaluable addition to the team…

Then the roof caved in. In February 1991, Santana was spotted at a Harvard-Yale-Princeton track meet by somebody who knew him from, literally, another life. The truth came out: Alexi Santana was more than 10 years older than he claimed to be and wasn’t even Alexi Santana. His real name was James Hogue, a serial impostor who had been born in Kansas and delayed his entry to Princeton because he’d been in jail for theft.

more from the LA Times here.

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