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(Way) Back to School: Ukrainian Man, 23, Poses as HS Student

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 26, 2016 1:00 PM

"21 Jump Street." "Never Been Kissed." "17 Again." There are plenty of movies about adults sneaking back in to high school, whether to fight crime, research a story, or relive the past. But what about if you're a foreign national? And what if it's not a movie?

John Harris High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania found out this week that one of its star students was in fact a 23-year-old Ukrainian man who had been posing as an American student for almost four years. I don't think he'll be getting his diploma.

All Gone to Potts

Asher Potts had put up quite the high school resume. Member of the National Honors Society. Over 4.0 GPA. Member of the school's ROTC and Naval Sea Cadet program. Food bank volunteer. Panelist at an event hosted by the school last month discussing guns, drugs, and violence with the Harrisburg's mayor and chief of police.

The only problem was that Asher Potts was not 18-year-old Asher Potts. He was 23-year-old Artur Samarin, a Ukrainian man law enforcement believes overstayed his visa, then enrolled in John Harris as a freshman. He was less than four months from graduating.

Better Than the Real Thing

Police don't think the Asher Potts identity was stolen, and Samarin probably used a fake birth date to get a Social Security card and fabricate the false identity. He had a Pennsylvania driver's license with Potts' name in his possession when he was arrested, and he was apparently living with friends during his new high school career.

While it's unclear who did the tipping or why, police say they first received a tip about Samarin about two months ago. Samarin has been charged with identity theft, tampering with public records, and other charges, and remains in jail while police investigate whether he had help in forging his new identity.

Perhaps our real high school students could learn something from our fake ones. "My parents and I were at Walmart, and when we were in the check-out line, the lady in front of us couldn't pay for her food and had to put it back," Potts to the Lebanon Daily News regarding his work at a local food bank. "That's when a light bulb went on and I knew I needed to help the less fortunate."

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