File this one under juicy Ivy League admissions stories — this one coming out of Princeton University from way back in the day. An article in “The Washington Post” written by Samantha Schmidt entitled “This con man lied his way into Princeton. Decades later, he was found squatting in mountain shack.” is a fascinating profile of a a “Sneaky Pete”-type figure who, under a false identity, earned admission to Princeton University about three decades ago. At Princeton, the man — James Arthur Hogue — ran on the varsity track team, was a member of the Ivy Club, and made it on the Dean’s List. And all this was just really the beginning of James Hogue’s life of crime.
And while we certainly don’t admire this man, just like “Sneaky Pete” (it’s a terrific show on Amazon that marks the return to television as a series regular of “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston), one can’t help but acknowledge that Hogue has been quite successful at his act. Writes Schmidt in her “Washington Post” piece, “Much like we admire Jay Gatsby’s ‘fevered strivings to reach the green light at the end of the dock, to invent a new name and a new past for himself and to win the love of Daisy Buchanan,’ David Samuels wrote in The Post in the 1995 article, ‘it is also hard not to admire James Hogue,’ however deceptive his acts. ‘It is hard not to admire the man who so thoroughly fooled the Princeton admissions committee, and who remained true, after all, to his own particular vision of himself, which he realized at Princeton with style, ambition and at least a measure of success.'”
But that wasn’t even the end of Hogue’s act at Princeton. Can you believe it? The Princeton admissions office has certainly earned a Mulligan for this one (and let’s not forget that Harvard admitted the man who would later become the “Unabomber”). Writes Schmidt, “And it was not to be his last appearance in the Ivy League realm. In 1992, he turned up as a guard in one of Harvard’s museums, and was arrested after just a few months on the job, charged with grand larceny for stealing gemstones worth $50,000. Violating his probation, Hogue returned to Princeton, posing as a graduate student though, of course, he was never enrolled in classes.”
If “Sneaky Pete” didn’t already exist, the life story of con man James Arthur Hogue would certainly make for great source material for a gripping TV drama. Maybe the show could be called “The Pretender.” Oh wait, that show already happened too. It’s really tough coming up with great TV show ideas. Good thing we don’t dabble in that business. Oh wait. Catch this show coming soon to ABC — based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald novella no less. And, yes, that’s Brian of our firm!