James Hogue: Con Men in History

Alexi Indris-Santana quickly won over the Princeton admissions officials with tales of his Thoreau-esque upbringing as a brillant self-taught Utah ranch hand who slept under the stars with his horse, Good Enough. The admissions committee even offered Indris-Santana $40,000 in financial aid to help with tuition costs.

Although Indris-Santana was accepted into Princeton for the 1988-1989 school year, he had to postpone his enrollment for a year to take care of his “dying mother.”

Once on campus Indris-Santana continued to impress with his academics and athletics. Even with a heavy load of six or seven classes a semester, Indris-Santana managed to earn mostly A’s. He was also quickly labeled as Princeton’s up and coming track star.

However, it was Indris-Santana’s notoriety on the track field that would be his undoing. At a Princeton-Yale-Harvard track meet in 1991 Indris-Santana was recognized by a Yale senior as 26 year-old Jay Huntsman who had been caught pretending to be a 17 year-old high school senior at her alma mater, Palo Alto, in California.

Upon investigation it became clear that neither Alexi Indris-Santana nor Jay Huntsman existed, both were aliases for the then 31-year-old James Hogue from Kansas City, Kansas.

Although Hogue’s most famous con is certainly the time he spent at Princeton under a false identity, it was certainly not his first con. After Hogue was confronted about his fake identity at Palo Alto, Hogue took off for Vail, Colorado where he got a job as a cross-trainer by claiming that he had a doctorate from Stanford. Hogue worked alongside world-class athletes such as the Olympic marathoner, Frank shorter. Hogue’s time in Vail ended when a runner tipped off Hogue’s boss.

Hogue then found a temporary job working for David Tesch, a bicycle builder. Shortly after Hogue left, Tesch reported a theft of $20,000 worth of parts and tools. Hogue was questioned, but never arrested for the theft.

Over a year later Hogue was caught repairing bicycles using tools engraved with Tesch’s name in St. George, Utah. Hogue was then arrested for possession of stolen property and served 10 months before being released on parole, which forced him to put off attending Princeton for a year. Of course, he told Princeton that he was caring for “dying mother.” Hogue then skipped parole to attend Princeton, and a warrant was put out for his arrest. It was this warrant for his arrest that would end his stint at Princeton.

Once Hogue’s fraud was discovered he was arrested and charged with wrongful impersonation, forgery and falsifying records. He ended up serving a total of nine months in prison and had to pay back the $22,000 he had used in financial aid. This was not Hogue’s last con, and it may not be his last. Currently he is serving a 10-year sentence from stealing over $100,000 worth in property from Colorado home owners.

5 Things You Should Know About Background Screening

Background checks allow employers to make educated hiring decisions through screening prospective employees. The screening process provides environmental and fiscal safeguards well after the hiring process is completed. Though the process of performing background checks varies with each employer, certain commonalities exist of which all parties in the hiring process should be aware.

1. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) determines the guidelines under which employers may conduct background checks.
The FCRA requires employers to give prospective employees a disclosure document stating that a background check will be conducted during the pre-employment screening process. Depending on the state in which the screening is conducted, the FCRA may require different levels of authorization from the prospective employee, but all background checks require written consent from the job applicant.

2. Employers utilize a multitude of consumer reporting agencies in order to acquire information about prospective employees, and not every employer will ask for the same information.
Most information acquired during the employment screening process is a matter of government public record (i.e. criminal record, bankruptcy, state licensing information). Government agencies will allow employers to have access to their databases for a small fee. Employers may also check other sources such as personal references and previous employment history. Each type of pre-employment screening requires a separate check, so third-party companies exist to consolidate the process for employers.

3. Certain information about prospective employees remains confidential throughout the screening process.
Because the FCRA seeks to protect all parties involved during background checks, employers cannot ask for certain information. Bankruptcies after 10 years, tax liens, collections, juvenile criminal records, and civil suits after seven years will not appear in the consumer report acquired by the employer.

4. Technological advances have resulted in a decrease in use of third-party organizations for background screening.
Negligent hiring is a major concern when conducting the pre-employment screening process, so technological advances have resulted in many employers opting to conduct their own background searches, rather than provide a third-party organization with prospective employees’ confidential information.

5. Prospective employees should prepare prior to consenting to a background check.
Various statistics report that potential employees provide an overwhelming amount of inaccurate information on their resumes, and background screening helps employers weed out discrepancies on job applications. Prospective employees should be aware of the laws in place regarding background checks, be honest on all application materials, and know what information the employer will obtain so they can avoid any negligence in the hiring process.

Sexual Offenders Exploit Gaps in School Hiring Systems

Despite an increasing amount of employers who conduct background checks on potential employees, registered sex offenders are still slipping through the cracks and are continually being hired despite their previous crimes. This is particularly a problem among public schools. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has discovered that there are gaps in the way public schools conduct their hiring. These gaps are permitting sexual predators to work in public schools and putting students in danger. The study showed that these gaps have resulted in repeated sexual crimes.

In fact, the GAO discovered that among those sexual offenders who were re-hired by schools 73 percent had a history of targeting children, and 40 percent committed new sexual crimes.

What are these gaps that are allowing sexual predators to sneak their way back into schools?

  1. Inadequate Background Checks

While more schools are conducting background checks during the hiring process, many are not covering their bases. It isn’t enough to just check your home state’s criminal records and sexual offender registry; many offenders commit crimes, move to a new state and are then able to find work in a school again because they appear to have a clean record. In addition to state records, you should also check national records.

  1. Schools Miss Obvious Indicators

Unless schools are diligent, it can be easy to miss obvious red flags. For example, the GAO discovered that in one situation a sexual offender left a question about prior criminal convictions blank on his application. It was overlooked, and the offender was hired with no further investigation.

  1. Unreported Sexual Abuse

Even if a person is suspected of committing a sexual crime, some schools do not report the abuse and allowed employees to resign rather than filing a report and terminating an employee for sexual misconduct. Resignation is usually preferable for both parties. Though ignoble, it’s preferred for a school because termination is expensive, can lead to litigation and negative media coverage. Resignation makes it easy for an offender to find work in a school again, as resignation is a lot easier to explain away than termination.

The GAO study also found that schools sometimes do not report abuse to local law enforcement, and some even provide recommendations to suspected sexual offenders if they left voluntarily.

Obviously there are many ways that schools can improve to keep sexual predators away from our children. For starters, school officials can close these gaps by being more discerning when looking at applications, running thorough background checks, and reporting abuse when it occurs.

Why Using Uber Might Cause Uber Problems

While background checks serve to weed out dishonesty on resumes and narrow large job applicant pools, their primary purpose will always be to ensure the safety of a company and its customers. Therefore, when any business responsible for the safety of others does not practice extreme caution in its hiring process, catastrophe ensues.

Thus is the case with Uber, one of the frontrunners of the taxi-alternative community. In late 2014, California prosecutors in San Francisco sued the company for not taking proper measures to vet its drivers. Prior to the lawsuit, Uber did not require their drivers to submit biometric data. Instead, applicants simply went on the company’s website and entered their personal information for their background checks, which meant that prospective drivers could potentially enter someone else’s information in order to gain employment. The thought is quite terrifying considering one Uber driver was charged with running down a child and another with rape and kidnapping.

The irony in the 2014 Uber safety debacle is that, while Uber does perform cab services for a variety of clientele, a huge portion of their clients utilize their services as an alternative to drinking and driving. When you consider the fact that Uber is responsible for drunk people on the regular, you have to question the company’s integrity as a whole if they aren’t at least getting fingerprints from their drivers.

Phillip Cardenas, the head of global safety for Uber commented, “No background check can predict future behavior and no technology can yet fully prevent bad actions.” While Cardenas is correct, criminal background data that a company gains from running prospective employee’s biometric data is paramount in preventing one’s clients from being in a dangerous situation, particularly if the clients’ motor skills and/or judgment are impaired.

The lawsuit levied by California prosectors also targeted Uber for surcharging its clients for running background checks when the company was not meeting the full extent of its due diligence. Unfortunately, the tragedies that have befallen Uber as a result of their irresponsible work force appear to be a direct result of old fashioned laziness and greed. Every background check takes time and money, and any company responsible for the care of others that doesn’t take the time to investigate its employees thoroughly probably isn’t worth yours.

So while many out there using the services of companies like Uber (and Lyft, which has had similar lawsuits filed against it) are trying to keep themselves safe, they might want to do some research on the party responsible for their safety before they take a ride from a potential stranger and even worse, possible criminal.