Ukrainian who faked age, name for school denied lower bail

AP News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2016 10:42 AM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A 23-year-old Ukrainian man accused of faking his name and age while attending a Pennsylvania high school and having sex with an underage girl was denied lower bail during a brief hearing Tuesday.

Prosecutors also dropped identity theft and conspiracy charges against Artur Samarin, leaving in place charges of unsworn falsification, statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors, theft and tampering with public records.

Dauphin County prosecutor Fran Chardo said the criminal allegations in the identity theft and conspiracy counts are covered in other charges against Samarin. Under Pennsylvania law, Chardo said, Samarin wouldn't get more criminal penalties if convicted of those charges along with identity theft and conspiracy.

"If we can avoid having an unnecessary hearing by dropping a duplicative charge, we'll do that every time," Chardo said afterward.

Samarin waived the preliminary hearing as part of an agreement in which prosecutors said they will not charge him, at least for now, with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Samarin's attorneys said that crime, which involves oral sex, carries substantially greater criminal penalties than statutory sexual assault.

Samarin, who called himself Asher Potts, is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

He had impressed teachers and community leaders while attending John Harris High School in Harrisburg and had been accepted into a college in Florida before authorities concluded he was considerably older and a Ukrainian citizen who overstayed a student work visa.

Defense attorney Clarke Madden argued that bail, now at $240,000, should be lowered, allowing Samarin to be transferred from the Dauphin County Prison to a federal immigration lockup in York.

Samarin has no criminal record and had no disciplinary problems at John Harris High, Madden said.

"There aren't any facts here that would justify bail of nearly a quarter-million dollars," the lawyer told Dauphin County Judge Deborah Curcillo.

Chardo told the judge that federal immigration authorities had not placed a formal detainer on Samarin but rather a request to be notified if he was about to make bail. The judge denied the bail reduction motion.

Samarin said before a hearing last month that he was just seeking a better life.