Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Bizarre student imposter story out of Texas
We've all wondered what it might be like to relive our "glory days" in athletics. This guy actually pulled it off.
ODESSA, Texas (AP) — A lot of guys dream about going back to high school and recapturing their athletic glory days. A man who went by the name of Jerry Joseph did it, police say, and now he’s in big trouble.
Authorities say the boyish-looking 22-year-old posed as a 16-year-old sophomore phenom to lead the Permian High School basketball team to the state playoffs. He was jailed on fraud charges, and the rabidly competitive West Texas high school that inspired the movie “Friday Night Lights” may have to forfeit its season.
“Everyone just thought he was a big guy,” said Permian senior football player Steven Pipes. “He played the part good, skipping down the hallways acting goofy like a 16-year-old.”
Pipes and some teammates approached the 6-foot-5 player they knew as Joseph soon after he enrolled last year, asking him if he wanted to play football. Pipes said Joseph, who was attending a junior high at the time, declined. He liked basketball instead, and he was good enough to average about 20 points per game over the final nine games heading into the playoffs, where Permian lost in the first round.
Joseph was a starter and played center and forward. But suspicions about the player’s identity first arose when three Florida basketball coaches familiar with a former player named Guerdwich Montimere recognized him last month at an amateur tournament in Little Rock, Ark. Montimere, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti, graduated from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale in 2007.
School officials and immigration authorities initially believed Joseph when he denied the allegations and let him remain enrolled. But school police and immigration agents confirmed Montimere’s identity Tuesday. When confronted, he confessed, said school district spokesman Mike Adkins.
Montimere was arrested and charged with failure to identify himself to a police officer. He posted $500 bond Wednesday, said Ector County sheriff’s Sgt. Debbie Bruce.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, he could face a maximum of six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Bruce said there was no record of an attorney for Montimere.
Montimere’s mother, Manikisse Montimere of Tamarac, Fla., said she had not seen her son in about two years. She said basketball was important to him.
Photo courtesy of Associated Press.