Peter H Pearse, Professor of Economics at Millersville University Pennsylvania was arrested on 21 March 1983 and charged with false identity. On 25 March 1983 John B Hext Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science was arrested at Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania and charged with the same offense.
Pearse and Hext were the same man. Officials at the Universities thought that was the end of the investigation. Then other Universities who had seen Pearse’s photo in the press came forward to say that they also had a man on their teaching staff who fitted that description.
The case was handed over to the Pennsylvanian State Attorney General’s office and a more thorough investigation begun.
It involved the FBI, State Department, Social Security Administration and Scotland Yard in the UK.
No one was too sure exactly who they had in Lancaster County Prison. For a while the mystery man was booked in as John Doe.
A raid on an apartment said to be leased to John B Hext uncovered more than 16 boxes of documents relating to over 34 false identities.
It was some time before the man’s real identity could be established but in the course of this very complex ‘plastic and paper chase’ the true story emerged of a man who had managed to teach in at least five different universities at the same time on a combined salary of at least $100,000 (about $240,000 today) without raising any alarms within the Administration Departments of the Universities involved.
This is a true story of how one man outwitted the establishment. Whether he was a criminal mastermind or a social genius working to pay for his daughter’s medical care is a question that this book tries to answer.