Who Is The Real Aiden Sinclair? The Bizarre Past of The Wyoming Magician and ‘America’s Got Talent’ Contestant
This summer, millions of Americans saw Wyoming based magician Aiden Sinclair wow the judges on the popular NBC series "America's Got Talent". Sinclair also made a candid admission during his two televised performances; revealing that he had served several years in a federal prison for being a "con man".
While his appearance inspired viewers all over the world, some former friends and associates are concerned that Sinclair's latest trick could be just the latest deception from one of the country's most infamous scam artists.
So who is the real Aiden Sinclair, aka Jonathan Derr, aka John Vincent Sinclair, aka Jonathan Vincent Valjean, aka Patrick Adams, aka Alvin Childress, aka Logan Devine, aka Declan McManus? The answer is almost too strange to believe.
In a recent interview, Sinclair claims his actual name in J. Richard Sinclair. According to a 2008 story from Madison State Journal, under the name of J. Richard Glen Outhier, he was sentenced to serve over four years at the Duluth Federal Prison Camp in Minnesota in 2008 for allegedly stealing the identity of a man with Down's syndrome, along with similar charges from Texas, Colorado and Wyoming.
Over the years, Sinclair's story read like a script from a Hollywood movie. His first run in with the law came back in 1993, when he went AWOL from the Marines. Amazingly, they found him at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland, where he was posing as a Navy SEAL named Jonathan Vincent Valjean.
While serving six months on military confinement, he was sentenced to another 18 months in a halfway house for forging checks in Colorado. After escaping from the halfway house, he fled to Virginia, leaving a trail of forged checks along the way.
He later resurfaced in Washington, D.C., working at a magic shop under the name of Patrick Adams. He then opened his own shop in Virginia before fleeing to Florida, where authorities finally caught up to him while he was performing illusions and card tricks at Disney World.
After serving a year in federal prison, he failed to report to his probation officer and was on the run once again. Two years later, he was apprehended in Chicago, posing as an emergency room attendant named Alvin Childress. He served another year in prison for violating his probation and was released in 2002.
Upon his release, Sinclair headed south, living in Louisiana and Texas. Once again, he found work as an emergency room attendant in the Dallas area, where he moonlighted in local magic circles under the name Logan Devine.
By 2005, after authorities claim he stole the identities of several emergency room patients, opening credit cards in their names, he left for Wyoming, where he set an even more elaborate scheme into action.
Upon arriving in Jackson, Wyoming, he found work at the Jackson Hole Playhouse posing as Declan McManus, who hailed from the town of Dublin, Ireland. Coincidentally, the alias he used in Jackson happens to be the real name of the legendary musician Elvis Costello.
He then allegedly launched a fictitious business that would attract Irish tourists to the popular destination. As evidence of his success, he offered a list of customers that had arranged to visit through a relative in Ireland. Authorities believe he had actually stolen the identity of over 200 patrons of the famed Jackson Hole Playhouse.
Later that year, he vanished, winding up in Madison, Wisconsin. Once again, he posed as an Irishman, this time a Belfast native named Jonathan Derr. In 2007, while working as a bartender and enrolling as an EMT trainee, Sinclair claims he voluntarily turned himself in.
Now, after serving his latest sentence, Sinclair is back. This time, living in a one bedroom basement apartment in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and working a regular day job. Although he wouldn't confirm some of the specifics from each case, he does admit to his crimes, including several other scams that he was never charged with.
He claims he was able to elude capture for so long by changing his identity and moving frequently. However, following increased security measures in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, it became more difficult for him to remain on the run.
In spite of his rap sheet, Sinclair claims to be reformed and vows to use his magic skills to entertain and inspire. "If was still that guy, I wouldn't be here. You can't hide from the law on national television," he said in a phone interview. "I'm trying very hard to make restitution and earn a living."
Sinclair says he never intended to harm any of the victims whose identities he stole. "My biggest regret is that there was one person in Jackson who was directly hurt as a result of my actions. That still weighs on me."
He also has a message for the fans he made during his recent television appearances. "The reality is, that's who I was for the majority of my adult life. I'm trying very hard. I'm sorry for what I did and all I can do now is try to be better."
Hopefully, he will. The country, and the authorities, will be watching.