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John Richard was a beloved member and hub of the 1:282 FidoNet network in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota... until the day he disappeared, and an amazing secret story came to light.

The best summary of the John Paul Aleshe story came from the Associated Press on June 9, 2000:

In Indianapolis, he was Robert Paul Hoquim, a successful computer-savvy businessman who started an Internet provider company. But after he died of a heart attack, police learned he was a fugitive named John Paul Aleshe who had been on the run for 14 years charged with the attempted murder of an Irving, Texas, police officer. Aleshe, as far as investigators know, used more than 10 aliases. Aleshe died May 23 in the bedroom of his $300,000 home in Noblesville, about 20 miles north of Indianapolis. Noblesville police were trying to track down relatives when they noticed Hoquim's driver's license was a fake and his Social Security number belonged to a woman in St. Louis.
"That obviously piqued our curiosity a little more," Noblesville Sgt. Tom Madden said Wednesday.
Investigators got permission to search Hoquim's rented storage area. There, in the glove compartment of an old pickup truck, they found an envelope that contained a Colorado driver's license. The photo was of a younger man and the name on the license was John Paul Aleshe.
FBI fingerprints confirmed he was Aleshe - a name that pulled up a criminal history. Aleshe was wanted in Texas for attempting to kill an Irving police officer, for possession of controlled substances, theft of property and theft of computer software. He also was wanted in Colorado for issuing bad checks, said Dallas FBI agent Marjorie Poche.
Irving police officer Ned Thurmond arrested Aleshe in 1986 and was driving him to the station when Aleshe freed one hand and grabbed the officer. s gun, said Irving Police Department spokesman David Tull. In the struggle, the gun fired and Aleshe was shot in the hand, he said. After posting bond, Aleshe fled Texas. Investigators believe he started several successful companies around the country using a variety of names. All the businesses appear to be legitimate, police said.
As Hoquim, he was known as a Greenville, Indiana, native, a graduate of Indiana University and CalTech, as well as a Vietnam War veteran. Police now say none of that is true.

John Paul Aleshe's story intersects with that of BBSes because among the scams he ran before settling down in Indianapolis was running a major FidoNet hub in Minneapolis, MN in 1988. This hub, which came to be the major point of traffic for the FidoNet network there, unceremoniously came down when "John Richard" (the alias Aleshe was using) suddenly disappeared on a "trip to Boston". One of the defrauded parties, Steve Sherwick, wrote a file which explained their knowledge of John Aleshe, and asked for help in tracking him down:

"I first made acquaintance with John under the name of John Richard in the fall of 1987, he had moved into the area and set up a BBS system called P.C. Info Exchange as a node in Region 14. At that time the Twin Cities was not a net but was preparing to create one.
"John entered the area claiming he had moved in from the Portland area. He stated he was a officer in the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to Honeywell (A large defense contractor in this area) as an inspector in the avionics division. He had said that his assignment was for at least three years and that he was pretty well here for good.
"John apparently had good contacts in the Portland area in the FIDO community as within two weeks he was importing more echomail for his system than all T.C. Metronet systems combined.
"John then basically made a broad offer to us here, that as long as he was importing echomail he'd be happy to scan any mail he was importing for anyone in the net. Well this is like the goose that lays the golden eggs, SysOps were lining up to have him scan for them.
"Around November of 1987 the SysOps here held a meeting to confirm that we would form a net in the area. At that time I was appointed Network Coordinator and John accepted the post of Network Echomail Coordinator. We applied for a Net number and it was approved. P.C. Information Exchange was assigned the node/number of 1:282/1. John at this time started experimenting with multiple lines and brought his system up to eight lines all told. He was selling subscriptions at $20.00 a year to help offset costs. At the time P.C. Info Exchange went down on May 1, 1988 there were in excess of 300 subscribers.
"The first real hints of the difficulties we were to experience came at the end of April and the beginning of May 1988. On April 30, 1988 Both Don Seiford (1:282/3) and I received phone calls from John indicating he was being called away to Boston on the possible closing of a home he had there. He had in the past made mention of a house in the east so his leaving seemed plausible.
"That evening for the first time in four months P.C. Info Exchange was down. The line were busy and there was simply no getting on the BBS. Voice calls placed to John were answered by an answering machine. It might be informative that John religiously answered the phone "This is John". It was a strong personality quirk.
"The next morning (May 1, 1988) David Garner of Cascade Electronics (a local supplier of computer products) called me at my place of employment in quite a panic. He stated that John had been scheduled to speak at a users group meeting that morning and had not arrived. He also mentioned that he and John had quoted a bid for the Minneapolis Public Library System and that as part of the terms all the hardware had to be installed by that day. He said that John had been impossible to reach for better than 24 hours. I told David that John had mentioned going to Boston and should return that day.
"David then called the Library System to confirm the hardware had been delivered and was informed the the bid had not been let at that point in time. Since David had provided hardware for that bid to the tune of $48,000 he was deeply concerned.
"This really caused us to be suspicious!!! We then called all known possible places of employment he had mentioned and confirmed that he had never been employed by any of the firms at any time. We then made multiple sight inspections of his place of residence over that day to confirm there was no traffic at his home. We also interviewed some of Johns near neighbors and confirmed he had been seen moving large amounts of computer hardware from his residence."

Now that the whole story is out, tracking Aleshe's movements becomes easier.

In 1989, under the name "Robert Hoquim", Aleshe created a BBS called "The Twin Towers" (Fidonet Node Number 1:231/160)in Indianapolis, IN.

Hoquim discovered the Internet early (by some standards) getting a UUCP feed for his BBS called towers.uucp in November of 1989. He also owned "towers.com" for a while.

Postings in 1990-1991 show that Robert Hoquim was running a business called Small Systems Specialists, in Indianapolis.

Before he died, Aleshe really got into Corvette racing, being a member of several Corvette clubs and purchasing two Dodge Vipers as well. Upon his death they were bought by a racing group from his estate.

A lawsuit ensued over a $10 million loan to Hoquim/Aleshe for iquest.com, given to him from ISP.com. When Aleshe died, the money had been transferred to his estate. Here is a quick paragraph from some of the court documents describing Aleshe and how rich he was at the time of his death:

"On February 16, 2000, the parties closed the sale, apparently without further documentation. Rather than paying the entire purchase price to IQuest, ISP paid $13.15 million of the purchase price [$23 Million] directly to Hoquim in the form of $12 million in two promissory notes and $1.15 million in cash.....Hoquim died intestate in May 2000. The Court of Appeals tantalizingly informs us that at the time of his death Hoquim was a thirteen year fugitive wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation whose real name was John Paul Aleshe, but supplies no elaboration on this unusual circumstance. There are other interesting gaps in the information available to us."

Source Edit

  • Scott, Jason. The BBS Documentary Library. [1]

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