HARRISBURG, Pa. -- State Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) didn't know when she took a picture with Harrisburg High School sophomore Asher Potts in May 2014, that less than two years later, she would be at the center of an internationally-known, viral story.
Kim invited Potts to her state Capitol office to honor him for exemplary student achievement. He had recently been inducted into the National Honor Society thanks to his 4.16 grade point average and work as a "cadet" in the Jr. ROTC.
"He came in with a scrap book of letters from other politicians giving him praise and honor," Kim said. "Talking to the guy, he seemed really bright and positive and ambitious."
Rep. Kim took photos with Potts, as well as his adoptive parents, Michael and Stephayne. She posted one of the pictures on her Twitter account, with the caption, "Asher Potts, #HBG HS soph with a 4.16 GPA in ROTC is a new member of the Nat'l Honor Society. #goingplaces #proud".
Fast forward to Feb. 23, 2016. Harrisburg Police arrested Potts once they learned he was actually Artur Samarin, a 23-year-old Ukrainian national, who, according to police, created a new identity and fooled the Harrisburg community into thinking he was a high school student. He's been charged on 10 criminal counts, including identity theft, lying to police, and two sex crime charges for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old.
Patty Kim, whose photo with "Asher Potts" was still on her Twitter feed, was easy to find with a simple search. Soon enough, her seemingly innocent tweet of her standing with the boy who fooled the government, went viral.
"Initially, I felt betrayed. He was lying to me. But I got over that quickly. Now I just see this as a sad and strange story," Kim said.
Her picture has ended up on CNN, Huffington Post, and other international outlets. She says she's received tweets from France and Russia, along with a handful of angry people in the United States.
"Pretty much criticizing and making fun of me, as if I knew he was an immigrant and here illegally," she says.
Ultimately, Rep. Patty Kim is confused, and is looking forward to more information coming out, especially those involving Samarin's parents, Michael and Stephayne, and how much they knew or helped the boy she still refers to as Asher.
"Part of me has a lot of sympathy for him," Kim says. "But then he probably got desperate. And in desperate times you make stupid decisions. And now he's paying for it."
Samarin is in Dauphin County Prison on $240,000 bail. He has a hearing scheduled in Harrisburg for Friday morning at 9 a.m.