Weird news: Man who claimed to be Adam Lanza's uncle has also sued Justin Bieber

Jonathan Lee Riches has a bizarre and extensive history of fraud and conspiracy

By Prachi Gupta
December 27, 2012 4:00AM (UTC)
main article image

Most of America did not know who Jonathan Lee Riches was until he emerged in Newtown, Conn. ten days ago, masquerading as the uncle of the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza. Riches, 35, told reporters that Lanza had been taking the antipsychotic Fanapt, and then posed for a photo at a memorial honoring the victims before outlets eventually caught on.

Now, the Smoking Gun reports that Riches, a Pennsylvania man serving a five-year probation sentence after having been in custody for wire fraud and conspiracy for the past decade, has been arrested by federal authorities for violating his probation. Riches was not allowed to leave "Eastern District judicial boundaries without permission from a judge or his probation officers," the site reports.


Even stranger, though, are Riches' past crimes. The Smoking Gun writes:

As chronicled by TSG, Riches previously gained notoriety as the federal prison system’s most prodigious serial litigant. While incarcerated, he filed hundreds of fatuous lawsuits that named a cavalcade of athletes, politicians, musicians, Hollywood stars, and other public figures as defendants.

Since his release from prison in late-April, Riches has continued filing lawsuits, though he has used names other than his own, like “Gino Romano.” For example, posing as the father of actress Selena Gomez, Riches filed an October 2012 federal complaint accusing Justin Bieber of stealing his credit card and using it to pay for a “penis enlargement.”

Riches has also sued Brad Pitt, John Travolta and the Church of Scientology as "Jonathan Jolie,” claiming to be Angelina Jolie’s cousin, and has sued Britney Spears as Kevin Federline's brother.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

MORE FROM Prachi GuptaFOLLOW prachiguLIKE Prachi Gupta

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Adam Lanza Hoax Jonathan Lee Riches Justin Bieber Weird News Of The Day