Crime

Amadeus Harlan, Broncos Impersonator, gets 48 years for a lifetime of scams

He wooed women and got away with pricey sports cars by fooling people into believing he was a Broncos player. Eventually he'd get locked up, but he started the scam all over again as soon as he was free.

Amadeus Harlan, aka Johnny Harlan, spent years stealing money, vehicles and hearts with his phony Broncos story -- but now it seems like it's finally game over. Last Friday, a Jefferson County judge sentenced the 41-year-old to 48 years in prison for identity fraud and vehicle theft, having determined he was a habitual offender since he'd previously been convicted of committing a total of twelve other felonies. He'll serve his time concurrently with a ten-year sentence he's serving in Adams County.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg in the strange case of Amadeus Harlan, a tale that involves a disputed, decades-old murder charge, shattered dreams of playing pro ball and Harlan21, a fraudulent youth sports company in northeast Denver that bamboozled an entire community. To read the entire, sordid story, check out the 2008 Westword story "Pro and Con."

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner