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May 06, 2014 | 04:55 PM
Screenwriter and author Lee Goldberg is having a lot of fun at the expense of James Strauss and someone with a suspiciously similar name — James Straus.

James Strauss, the senior editor of the Geneva Shore Report — who claims to have written for several popular television shows, worked for the CIA and on one website even reports that he has a Ph.D. — has been called a conman and fake by Goldberg on his blog.

Strauss declined to comment on the allegations to the Lake Geneva Regional News. "It's painful," he told General Manager and Editor John Halverson before quickly ending a phone conversation.On his blog, Goldberg writes that Straus — with one S — was convicted twice in the late 1990s of financial crimes in New Mexico. Goldberg links his blog to several news stories and court documents about James R. Straus' legal proceedings.

The editor of the Geneva Shore spells his name Strauss. However, Goldberg writes that the alternative spelling is simply an "also known as."

Are Straus and Strauss the same person?

On his website, Goldberg includes a booking photo of Straus, which appears to be the same Strauss from the Geneva Shore Report. In an email, the Regional News asked Strauss if he was the same man who appeared in the booking photo. In his response, he didn't address the question.

In 1998, the man named Straus was convicted of federal wire fraud after defrauding teachers in Bangkok out of their retirement funds. On June 10, 1998, he received three years of probation and was ordered to spend 21 months in custody. He also was ordered to repay nearly $400,000 in restitution.

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While he was free from custody on the federal case, Straus swindled $20,000 from a Sante Fe business, according to an article on the High Beam Business website.

The booking photo of Straus comes from the Sante Fe County jail's website. According to the information attached to the booking photo, Straus was being held for court on the embezzlement case.

Online court records related to the embezzlement case indicate that Straus was transported to that jail from the Safford Federal Correctional Facility. On June 1, 1999, he was released from the Sante Fe County jail and returned to the federal prison.

Online court records indicate that Straus was released from probation on Jan. 25, 2001. Records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons indicate that James Robert Straus was released from federal prison on Feb. 16, 2000.

Other connections

Strauss also has appeared at a number of city council meetings and provided the address of N1517 Meadow Ridge Circle, Linn Township. Online tax records indicate the property is owned by Michael Straus.

It has a billing address of 507 Broad St., which is the same address as the Geneva Shore Report and another business that Strauss runs called Antares Research & Development Inc.

In the federal case, Straus appealed his sentence arguing that the federal court's sentence was too harsh.

In federal court documents, James R. Straus argued that his military service should have been considered as a positive attribute during his sentencing.

The Shore Report's Strauss has said that he is a veteran and has been highly critical of the local American Legion for having a nonveteran run its canteen.

In federal court documents, Straus' wife, Mary Straus, requests a hearing to be exempted from being a garnishee on her husband's debts in the wire fraud case. In Strauss' book, "The Boy, The Mastodons" he thanks his wife who is named Mary.

The Regional News requested police reports from several local departments related to James R. Straus and James R. Strauss to see if the man from New Mexico was the same person as the one who edits the Shore Report.

The town of Geneva twice cited James R. Strauss for speeding. The James R. Strauss shares a birthday with the James R. Straus listed in court documents in the federal case and the New Mexico case. After being stopped for speeding, James R. Strauss provided Geneva Township police with a New Mexico driver's license and an address from Sante Fe.

In the Shore Report, Strauss has also linked the publication to New Mexico.

"The publisher is a corporation owned by a corporation in New Mexico, which is itself owned, by a corporation in Norway," the Shore Report says November 2011.

Other questionable claims

On the back flap of his book, Strauss writes that he has been "a Marine officer, deep sea diver, shipboard physician's assistant, professor of anthropology and currently writes for several Hollywood production companies."

Strauss maintains a number of websites, one in which he claims to have a Ph.D. However, the Regional News was unable to locate on any of Strauss' websites where he earned his Ph.D, or where he taught anthropology.

Strauss also has a website for a company called Antares Research & Development Inc. The services offered on the Antares website vary greatly and include, "documentary film production, computer hardware assembly, silver mining, native Indian jewelry, fabrication and sales, literary productions for Hollywood and New York, and consulting for the government of the United States of America in foreign affairs and diplomacy."

Details on the criminal charges

According to court documents, in 1988, Straus started a business in Albuquerque, N.M. called Straus Downing International.

Straus Downing was an insurance business, but later expanded to manage retirement investments.

"In 1991, Straus traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to meet with officials of the International School of Bangkok (ISB). ISB offered its employees, most of whom were teachers who taught at the school, the opportunity to invest up to 10 percent of their incomes in a retirement fund, and in 1991 the school was looking for a company to manage the investment fund," according to appeals court ruling. In 1993, the school became suspicious of Straus and met with him in Germany. At that time, Straus wrote the school a check for $383,087, which bounced. Straus responded that the money was "tied up," according to court documents. Straus had previously mailed the school an insurance policy, but that was fraudulent.

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