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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  00:12:37  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Artist pleads guilty to passport fraud
Longtime companion of James "The Amazing" Randi could face deportation


A celebrated local artist who lived for 24 years under a stolen identity pleaded guilty Wednesday to a passport fraud charge, leaving him to fight deportation to his native Venezuela.

Deyvi Pena, 50, spent most of his adult life as "Jose Luis Alvarez" with his colorful, modernist paintings exhibited in New York, Miami and San Francisco. He often could be found by the side of his longtime companion, the famed magician and professional skeptic James "The Amazing" Randi.

Pena's lie unraveled when the real Jose Luis Alvarez, a teacher's aide from the Bronx, applied for a passport in 2010 and federal authorities figured out that one had already been issued under that name. Pena was arrested in September at the Plantation home he shares with Randi, admitting his true identity six weeks later so he and Randi could post a million-dollar bond to get him out of jail...


We'll see where this goes, but questions about Randi's integrity are already flying, although it should be noted that this is not a particularly friendly site with regard to Randi or the skeptical community. (Which doesn't mean that Randi's integrity shouldn't be questioned.)

JAMES RANDI—SKEPTICISM'S GREAT ACHILLES

Sharon Hill (Doubtful Newsblog) and Daniel Loxton have replied.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  00:57:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, personal matters are personal matters. This, I think, is one of them, in the main irrelevant to all else Randi has stood for over the years. Randi himself is innocent, and I think blameless, unless and until something is proven against him. I don't know of any such charges. This was Pena's doing, as I see it. He'll be the one to suffer. I'm much more upset with Pena's stealing of an identity than with his living illegally in the US.

Not ratting out a friend (assuming Randi knew of Pena's fraud) is not the same as being an accomplice. Randi has never put himself forward as a professional scholar or scientist, but merely as an "Honest Liar." As that, he'll remain one of, if not the, best.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  10:14:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
Not ratting out a friend (assuming Randi knew of Pena's fraud) is not the same as being an accomplice.
I don't think that's the legal view. If one has knowledge of a crime and fails to report it, that person can be charged as an accessory to the crime.

So did Randi break the law? Probably. Does that hurt his credibility? Not with me. But it will be used to attack his character. If gay marriage were legal he wouldn't have to hid his relationship for all these decades and his spouse could remain here legally.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  10:54:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Originally posted by HalfMooner
Not ratting out a friend (assuming Randi knew of Pena's fraud) is not the same as being an accomplice.
I don't think that's the legal view. If one has knowledge of a crime and fails to report it, that person can be charged as an accessory to the crime.

So did Randi break the law? Probably. Does that hurt his credibility? Not with me. But it will be used to attack his character. If gay marriage were legal he wouldn't have to hid his relationship for all these decades and his spouse could remain here legally.
Good points, mostly. But I think the "knowledge of a crime" thing is trickier than either of us has gotten into. I was on a murder jury where the accused was tried for murder as an accomplice. One of the legal points that was given us by the judge was that even if the accused was riding around in the backseat with the actual shooter, and knew the gunman's intentions, if he in no way participated in the crime itself (the killing of a liquor store proprietor during an armed robbery), then he was not guilty of the crimes of murder or robbery.

The accused in the trial was not put in the store by any witnesses -- except the shooter, who'd been required by a deal with the DA to act as a witness after his murder conviction, but before his sentencing (a death sentence was in the balance), and so we unanimously acquitted him. (No physical evidence had been presented, either.)

Yet I think there are indeed situations where knowing of an ongoing or upcoming crime does entail legal responsibility to report the crime. IANAL, and I wonder about exactly how that line is drawn. Not that I'd expect to see Randi charged. It'd be hard to convict him, anyway.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  11:36:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Randi pretty much had to know about it. There is evidence of that. The problem is, of course, Randi fights fraud. And identity theft is fraud. I'm not trying to be harsh here. This will not stop me from admiring Randi at all for his contributions to skepticism, which are many. Hell. He's one of the founders of the skeptical movement and has a pretty impressive track recored where it comes to exposing charlatans, and promoting critical thinking and skepticism.

We're all human. We all have some failings. And perhaps they did what they thought they needed to do to stay together. The suit alleges that another person was hurt by the theft of his identity. And that's bad. But I certainly don't know all the facts in the case.

A thing like this doesn't erase erase a life's work. I suggest that you read Daniel Loxton's replies in the second link I provided. I think he pretty much nails it.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  17:29:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know how anyone can just assume Randi knew without a speck of any real knowledge on the topic, apparently based on pure speculation.

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  19:18:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by sailingsoul

I don't know how anyone can just assume Randi knew without a speck of any real knowledge on the topic, apparently based on pure speculation.
Jailed Plantation mystery artist reveals true identity in federal court

Were getting this news a bit late. But here you go:

Mitrani said she and the federal agents working on the case had not had time to check for immigration records, but that she was comfortable Pena was his actual identity and that he would not try to flee the country if released on bond.

"We are going to verify and vet the information he gave us," Mitrani told the judge.

The judge was satisfied only after hearing Pena and Randi testify under oath. Randi told the judge he had seen Pena's Venezuelan passport years ago. Pena said he used the fraudulent U.S. passport to travel Europe.

Seltzer set two bonds for Pena: One is a $1 million personal surety bond guaranteed by him and Randi, and the other is a cash bond of $50,000. Pena was released a few hours after the hearing, still wearing tan jail scrubs. He will wear an electronic monitor and be under house arrest.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  21:00:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, then Randi had seen Pena's real Venezuelan passport, and must have know that when he traveled, it was with a fake. That's still not the same as knowing that Pena committed ID theft in getting the fake, though Randi logically must have at least suspected some other crime, sine there was that fake passport.

I mean, in terms of what we know from evidence. I suspect Randi knew it all, but my suspicions aren't evidence. And then there's that uncertainly about whether knowing of the crime (if he did) would make Randi criminally liable since he didn't report it.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  22:34:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Okay, then Randi had seen Pena's real Venezuelan passport, and must have know that when he traveled, it was with a fake. That's still not the same as knowing that Pena committed ID theft in getting the fake, though Randi logically must have at least suspected some other crime, sine there was that fake passport.

I mean, in terms of what we know from evidence. I suspect Randi knew it all, but my suspicions aren't evidence. And then there's that uncertainly about whether knowing of the crime (if he did) would make Randi criminally liable since he didn't report it.
To my knowledge, Randi is not being charged with any crime.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2012 :  22:38:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Originally posted by HalfMooner

Okay, then Randi had seen Pena's real Venezuelan passport, and must have know that when he traveled, it was with a fake. That's still not the same as knowing that Pena committed ID theft in getting the fake, though Randi logically must have at least suspected some other crime, sine there was that fake passport.

I mean, in terms of what we know from evidence. I suspect Randi knew it all, but my suspicions aren't evidence. And then there's that uncertainly about whether knowing of the crime (if he did) would make Randi criminally liable since he didn't report it.
To my knowledge, Randi is not being charged with any crime.
That's my impression, too. Which is a small blessing.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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karlaa
New Member

6 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2012 :  02:21:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send karlaa a Private Message  Reply with Quote
yea, pretty interesting post and opinions but i only agre with a couple of them.. karla

http://aperfectcelebration.com/wedding-hat-ideas-4/
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2012 :  06:01:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by karlaa

yea, pretty interesting post and opinions but i only agre with a couple of them.. karla
Care to amplify?

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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podcat
Skeptic Friend

435 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2012 :  13:25:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send podcat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I will say this before the trolls come...

I do agree with the principles the JREF is trying to promote, which is why I'm disappointed by hearing that Randi is involved in this, to whatever degree. The JREF has quite a large role in promoting skepticism with programs like the Million Dollar Challenge, TAM, and helping produce podcasts like the SGU, so if it turns out that Randi not only knew the identity was fake, but knew about the identity theft, that sets the goal of promoting reason back, because the personality is so associated with the foundation.

“In a modern...society, everybody has the absolute right to believe whatever they damn well please, but they don't have the same right to be taken seriously”.

-Barry Williams, co-founder, Australian Skeptics
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2012 :  13:48:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
podcat:
...that sets the goal of promoting reason back, because the personality is so associated with the foundation.

I don't think so. Randi is one of our leaders, and he will remain one of our leaders. No one is without fault. But the common goal of promoting critical thinking in our community will not change. All of skepticism does not rest on Randi's shoulders. The challenge is still on and the Jref will survive. Unfortunately for me and money problems, I probably won't make it to TAM this year, but I predict that TAM will sell out. SGU will be fine and so on... There are many leaders in the skeptical community and while this scandal might have some consequences for Randi, the movement itself is bigger than any one person.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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the_ignored
SFN Addict

2558 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2012 :  20:48:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send the_ignored a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If it turns out that Randi knew about this, hoo boy. That, and it was for a <b>male</b> friend at that. I say let the Law settle it according to it's due process.

Meantime, I should head over to RR or some of those other sites just to see how much blood is in the water.

>From: enuffenuff@fastmail.fm
(excerpt follows):
> I'm looking to teach these two bastards a lesson they'll never forget.
> Personal visit by mates of mine. No violence, just a wee little chat.
>
> **** has also committed more crimes than you can count with his
> incitement of hatred against a religion. That law came in about 2007
> much to ****'s ignorance. That is fact and his writing will become well
> know as well as him becoming a publicly known icon of hatred.
>
> Good luck with that fuckwit. And Reynold, fucking run, and don't stop.
> Disappear would be best as it was you who dared to attack me on my
> illness knowing nothing of the cause. You disgust me and you are top of
> the list boy. Again, no violence. Just regular reminders of who's there
> and visits to see you are behaving. Nothing scary in reality. But I'd
> still disappear if I was you.

What brought that on? this. Original posting here.

Another example of this guy's lunacy here.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2012 :  21:05:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by the_ignored

If it turns out that Randi knew about this, hoo boy. That, and it was for a <b>male</b> friend at that. I say let the Law settle it according to it's due process.

Meantime, I should head over to RR or some of those other sites just to see how much blood is in the water.
Randi has been out for a couple of years now. No one cares.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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