23-year-old accused of posing as high school student was planning attack, ‘adoptive parents’ say

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - The 23-year-old Ukrainian national who was posing as a 17-year-old high school student in Pennsylvania was planning an attack, the couple who was caring for the man said.

Stephayne and Michael Potts, the couple who was caring for 23-year-old Artur Samarin, say they contacted federal authorities in November 2015 after he started to make threats he would hurt classmates and teachers.

The couple spoke publicly for the first time this week about their relationship with Artur Samarin, who was known in the community as Asher Potts, WPMT reports.

Samarin was arrested in February for theft, identity theft and tampering with public records after it was discovered he had been posing as a high school student for at least four years.  He was also charged with sexual assault after it was discovered he had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student in 2014.

Samarin was posing as Asher Potts and used a false birth date, fake social security card and other fake documents to enroll at John Harris High School in 2012.

He remained in the country after his visa expired, police said.

When Samarin was arrested, he was carrying a driver’s license in the name of Asher Potts.

According to WPMT, Stephayne claims she call the Federal Bureau of Investigation in November because she was worried Samarin might hurt fellow students.

 

"He made comments about other shootings, and he told us that everyone would know his name. He said his name would be the biggest in the world," Stephayne told reporters. "He started talking about certain kids in school he wanted to hurt. He started talking about blowing he school up."

The woman says she and her husband met Samarin in the summer of 2012.

He was in town with other Ukrainian students as part of an international work program, WPMT reports.

Samarin approached the couple and told them he was getting beat up by his fellow students.

He also allegedly told the couple that he was 14 and that his parents abandoned him.

The couple says they eventually took the boy in and enrolled him at Harrisburg High School.

Stephayne says she did not need any documents to get Samarin enrolled into school.

She told reporters that she knew Samarin was in the country illegally, but said she had every intention to legalize his status once he turned 18.

"I still don’t believe he's 23," she said, tearfully, saying how she watched him go through puberty. "Someone will have to prove that to me. We watched him go from high pitched tones to the way he speaks now. His show size, clothing size, he got taller as well."

Samarin joined the Jr. ROTC program in high school, and according to friends, had expressed interest in joining the military or becoming an astronaut. However, he was told in late 2015 about a heart condition which would prevent him from participating in many future activities. Stephayne said that is when they started to notice a change in his behavior.

Samarin's attorney denies Potts' claims.

"Up until the time he was arrested, he was an upstanding student," Klein said. "She is trying to paint herself as the victim. One would only need to look at her criminal history to see she is a con artist."

Stephayne and Michael Potts have not been charged with any crimes.

Read more on Artur Samarin from WPMT