Sunday, October 16, 2016

The password is literally phony

Rummaging around the game show Interwebs, I came across a note on the Reddit game show board about con artist and Super Password contestant Kerry Ketchem.

The linked video of the CNN report about Ketchem's time on Super Password is not just interesting for the con man's saga. It also provides a glimpse of CNN in its pre-Gulf War infancy. Ketchem called himself "Patrick Quinn" on the show and invented a story about working for the CIA. (Hello, fellow operator Chuck Barris.)

A viewer recognized Ketchem and the cops picked him up when he tried to collect his winnings. This LA Times story says he got five years for an insurance scam. The story misspells his name "Ketchum," but who knows the truth about con artists?

No matter how you spell his last name, the intelligent University of Maryland grad Kerry was a genuinely good Password contestant. He came along too late to add game show rigging to his résumé of scams and trickery. He won almost sixty grand on the show but the producers refused to pay. Ketchem filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed.

Super Password lives on in Buzzr reruns, though the show has been exiled to a few odd time slots here and there. Maybe Kerry will turn up on the diginet one of these days.

As for his con artistry, Ketchem never did learn. He's currently a guest of the state of Indiana, after copping a plea in yet another theft scam. He sweet talked some of his fellow workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of auto parts. The appeals court noted "his prior seven convictions...theft of government property and breaking and entering into FBI headquarters, fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, possession of a forged instrument, forgery, and conversion." It's an impressive list. As one of his own lawyers once said: "Let's face it, Kerry's a rascal."

Kerry's now in a work release facility in Evansville, IN. His earliest possible release date is January 24, 2017. You could make an interesting TV movie about his life.

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