4 things we learned from the Globe Magazine report on the woman accused of posing as a teenage student in Boston

4 things we learned from the Globe Magazine report on the woman accused of posing as a teenage student in Boston

The Secret Lives of Shelby Hewitt: A 32-Year-Old High School Imposter

The Secret Lives of Shelby Hewitt: A 32-Year-Old High School Imposter

Shelby Hewitt has pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud and forgery charges. Prosecutors say she pretended to be a teenager to enroll in Boston Public Schools.

Why did Shelby Hewitt, a 32-year-old woman and social worker, allegedly pose as a teenager under fake identities at three Boston high schools during the 2022-2023 academic year? That’s the question a new Globe Magazine report, “The secret lives of Shelby Hewitt, 32-year-old high school imposter,” attempts to answer, delving into Hewitt’s history and the timeline of the case, which is set to go to trial this fall.

Charges and Allegations

Hewitt, a resident of Canton, pleaded not guilty in December to three counts of document forgery, two counts of common law forgery, and one count each of uttering false or forged records, identity fraud, larceny over $1,200, and violating public employee standards of conduct. Prosecutors allege that first, Hewitt posed electronically as a Department of Children and Families worker to get herself admitted as a child patient at Walden Behavioral Treatment Center and then enrolled herself in Boston Public Schools. “The defendant created multiple names and dates of birth for herself and propagated an intricate — but false — narrative of an extremely traumatized child with significant special educational and emotional needs,” prosecutors said in a statement of facts on the case.

Alleged Enrollment in Schools

In the fall of 2022, she allegedly enrolled as a 16-year-old student at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester. According to the Globe, she used the name Daniella Blake Herrera. Prosecutors said she then transferred to Brighton High School, and by the start of June 2023, she allegedly enrolled herself as a 13-year-old at English High School in Jamaica Plain under a different name. There, she used the name Ellie Blake, according to the Globe.

Discovery and Arrest

Hewitt’s alleged ruse was discovered in June and she was arrested when the man she said was her foster father said he was going to transfer her from English High School to a new school due to bullying.

Key Points from the Globe Report

Hewitt's Double Life

Even as Hewitt was allegedly attending classes and doing homework under her teenage identities, she was working full time for DCF and “living her real life,” according to the Globe. She was hired as a social worker by the state agency out of graduate school and worked there between 2016 and 2018. She returned again in December 2021 and continuing on — earning her full salary — while allegedly simultaneously attending BPS schools under her false identities and posing as fake DCF employees representing those teens, according to the magazine.

According to the Globe, her “real life” included buying a two-bedroom condo — paying cash — in Central Massachusetts and staying in touch with friends from college and Sharon High School.

Handling of Inconsistencies by Students

Students at Jeremiah E. Burke High School told the Globe that Hewitt’s story about her family and living situation as 16-year-old freshman Daniella Blake Herrera wasn’t always consistent. The students didn’t want to press her on what appeared to be a harder life than their own, the Globe reports.

Role of the Couple She Lived With

For most of the school year Hewitt was living with Rebecca Bernat and John Smith in their Jamaica Plain condo, according to the Globe. The publication reports Hewitt met Bernat while she was allegedly as a child patient, under a false identity, at the Walden Behavioral Treatment Center.

Bernat and Smith have not been charged with any crimes. In a statement to the magazine, lawyers representing them said Hewitt “deceived and victimized” the couple.

Hewitt's Statement

When Hewitt responded to the Globe’s request for an interview, she told the publication that “there’s a reason” for why she did everything she did.

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