When Saltzman took a trip to the Social Security Administration downtown to get a new card, Gold accompanied her — and promptly entered the line intended for international citizens with foreign passports. "What did he do when he got to the front?" she asks now. "It's not like he was actually from Israel. Did he just say 'Oops" and sit down?"

When the two became Facebook friends, Eshkenazi noticed Gold using Foursquare to check in at locations across the city. Whole Foods and Starbucks were his favorites, though he also checked in from Patton Boggs and "Rick's Home," an address at 33rd and Clay that does not exist but would have stood between two actual buildings in Highland. When Saltzman picked him up, Gold would meet her in the alley. What his friends knew of his place — which he said he bought with a military payment — they learned from the photos he posted on Facebook. "He had a messy kitchen," Saltzman remembers. "I guess it turns out he had no kitchen." And although he claimed to own an Audi with the license plate "BTCHPLZ," Gold's friends only saw him ride a bike. But like Rick Duncan, Gold said that his license had been suspended for medical reasons. And Gold wore only one pair of shoes, a stinky pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

At one point, Gold told Saltzman that he'd quit Patton Boggs to become a self-defense instructor at Colorado Krav Maga. Because he was in great shape, she believed him. (Months later, instructors at Colorado Krav Maga put out an Internet warning that Strandlof had never worked for the company.) But he still had his law degree, he assured her, and would be happy to adjust her will for her.

Rick Strandlof, aka Rick Duncan, was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act.
Rick Strandlof, aka Rick Duncan, was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act.
Rick Strandlof joined up with Occupy Denver last fall.
Ambrose Cruz
Rick Strandlof joined up with Occupy Denver last fall.

In June 2011, Gold volunteered to man the StandWithUs booth at PrideFest. But during the second day of the event, onetime Colorado House candidate Paul Rosenthal, who'd met Rick Duncan and then seen him unveiled as Strandlof, recognized Gold. He called Eshkenazi and left a message. By the time she got the news, Gold had disappeared — taking with him the group's fliers and promotional materials. Gold's closest friends in the Jewish community gathered to draft a message to him, in which they cut ties permanently and encouraged him to seek mental help. Saltzman took her concerns to the FBI, where an official greeted her with this: "Our friend Rick's at it again!"

"What was most disturbing to me is that he visited our home a few times and met our children. Not that I thought there was danger," Eshkenazi says. "But it was like being friends with someone who was a ghost. He didn't really exist." When she told her children that, they didn't take the news well.

On his Facebook page, Gold had written his name in both English and Hebrew. But instead of simply spelling "Gold" phonetically, which is the correct approach, he translated it into the Hebrew word for "gold." At the time, Saltzman didn't think much of it. Today she realizes it showed he was never Jewish. This has been the most hurtful realization for those who knew Strandlof as Gold.

After his fall, Saltzman contacted Strandlof's sister, Katie Pierson, and told her of Rick's latest guise. "He thinks he's Jewish?" Pierson responded. "Ha ha fml!" Later, she concluded, "All I can say is cut your losses an tell him to leave u alone..."

God please guide me and keep me in this time and place.

On a cold night last fall, Richard Strandlof, zipped into a North Face jacket, stood over a steaming pot. His gloved hand dipped an oversized spoon into the soup. "Who wants some?" he asked those standing in line in front of Occupy Denver's former home in Civic Center Park. "I didn't make it and I can't vouch for it, but I can smell it, and it smells good."

The month before, Strandlof had joined the Occupy Wall Street movement, carving out a niche in Denver's anarchist kitchen, the Thunderdome. There he worked the equivalent of a part-time job cooking and serving free food made from donated ingredients to anyone who stopped by and asked for it. He rotated mornings, afternoons and nights down at the park, and he made a new group of friends, many of whom now follow him on Twitter and Facebook, where he uses his real name.

Only a couple of weeks after he started volunteering, they learned about his other names.

Around the last week of October, someone put together Strandlof's activism and his criminal record and called him out on Twitter. Nervous about what this would mean to his new, real life, Strandlof pointed his accuser to his blog — rickstrandlof.blogspot.com — where he now writes about his past transgressions and his current twelve-step program as a member of AA. (He recently claimed eleven months of sobriety.) Some of his former friends follow the blog. Most don't. Some believe it. Some don't.

"I'm worried that this is just another persona: Recovery Rick," Eshkenazi says. "I don't know if he's genuinely in recovery, and I find it hard to believe what he says at this point."

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7 comments
PalmalaHanderson
PalmalaHanderson

Having 3 sons;

1- sociopathic narcissistic sex offender felon

2- bi-polar passive-agressive never employed slacker

3- honor roll athlete of high morals

 

Is it nature or nurture?

 

Is it us (parents, still married)?

 

How come the kid we gave the least parenting to (the first two pretty much burnt us out) turned out so good?

 

Reading this story makes me realise that is a question for the ages that I will take to my grave.

 

 

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

So THIS, is what Joe Murphy does w/ his spare time....???

heckle3030
heckle3030

"He's like the Mr. Magoo of espionage."

 

I damn near broke a rib laughing. Good call, Hank!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

So when this guy finally pops a gasket, will there be copious handwringing about the ignored -- yet obvious -- signs of mental illness?

 

 

Elwood
Elwood

Very good read.  For the sake of clarity/accuracy, Iliff is not part of DU. 

klansman
klansman

Wow - i had no clue this guy was a homo.  That sure changes my impression of him now.

 
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