Kurt Kroboth, a convicted would-be wife killer who was bothered by lingering notoriety over his Albemarle crimes, has convinced a California judge to change his identity. Following a hearing in early May, the Superior Court of Contra Costa County entered a decree giving Kroboth a new name: Oscar Michel Glass.
“Only on the left coast,” says David Heilberg, a legal analyst who once represented Glass. “I can’t imagine Virginia doing this.”
As it turns out, however, the commonwealth puts few hurdles between a violent felon and a new identity. Two years ago, after convicted rapist Jeffrey Theodore Kitze found Charlottesville women rejecting his social entreaties, he convinced a judge in nearby Buckingham County to give him the much less distinctive name of Jeffrey Ted Miller.
Such identity adjustments worry victim rights advocate Camille Cooper.
“The public has a right to know,” says Cooper. “I have a 25-year-old daughter, and I would want her to know.”
The Kitze-to-Miller name change, approved by Circuit Judge Kimberly S. White in 2013, prompted Delegate Rob Bell to win passage of a bill the following year that scrutinizes name changes by convicted sex offenders. Glass, however, was not classified as a sex offender, and he no longer lives in Virginia.
Now 60 and residing near the San Francisco Bay in the city of Hercules, the former financier with an MBA from Columbia currently assists students in math, French and standardized test preparation. When Oscar Glass, whose new initials are O.M.G., was reached by a reporter, he said it was not a good time to talk, and multiple phone calls went unreturned.
“Oscar is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” says satisfied customer “Zachary” in an online review. “My mother and I were looking for a last-minute, low-budget tutor before my ACT and were lucky to find Oscar.”
Hermes Tutoring, as Glass calls his company, borrows a name from the youthful messenger god known in mythology for transporting souls to the afterlife. Evidence suggests that in 2004, Glass had something similar in mind for his estranged wife.
On Halloween night, wearing a vampire mask, toting a knife and wearing latex gloves, he disabled telephone and electric lines to the house where she was sleeping and attempted to subdue her with a chloroform-soaked cloth, according to Albemarle Circuit Court records. His plot failed when she awakened and fought him off as he tried to hurl her into a two-story foyer.
The prosecutor noted that Glass had previously attempted to hire a hitman to avoid paying his wife’s court-ordered $6,000 per month divorce settlement. Pleading guilty, he was convicted of attempted murder, as well as breaking and entering.
Initially released from prison in 2011, Glass sent a registered letter the following year to this journalist contending that “spectacularized” articles at readthehook.com, the website for a now-defunct weekly newspaper, constituted an “ongoing attack” on his reputation. In lieu of deleting the articles, he recommended adding a line of code to prevent indexing by search engines.
While the so-called “right to be forgotten” has recently gained traction in European Union efforts against Google, it’s anathema to information disseminators such as Waldo Jaquith.
“It’s 2015, and you can’t just outrun your reputation,” says Jaquith, who wonders why the California judge, who also waived Glass’ court costs, would grant a new name to a violent felon.
“I wonder,” says Jaquith, “if the judge is not aware of his history or just didn’t care.”
Repeated calls to Contra Costa Judge John H. Sugiyama were unreturned.
Correction 8/18/15: The original story misstated Glass’ middle name, Michel, because of a typo on a probation letter.