Mediaite’s Managing Editor Jon Nicosia Has Fake Name And Lengthy Criminal Record But That’s Cool By Mediaite

Mediaite's Managing Editor Jon Nicosia Has Fake Name And Lengthy Criminal Record But That's Cool By Mediaite
Do you enjoy complicated stories about high-profile Internet journalists and their lying and stealing and going to prison-ing yet somehow keeping their jobs? No, this is not about Dok Zoom or me. Over the weekend, Mediaite managing editor Jon Nicosia wrote a casual column about how he is a two-time felon working under a fake name.

My given name is Zachary Hildreth, but most people in the media world know me as Jon Nicosia. I am currently the managing editor of I am also a convicted felon.



Apparently JonZachary had to come clean because Capital New York was about to figure out his secret identity, which is not a cool Batman or Superman type of secret identity. He was, however, covering up some super weird AND super stealing stuff.

Let’s talk about the stealing first, because that’s the part that JonZack owns up to in his little Salon-type “I Did A Thing” column. Unfortunately, he used one million words to explain it, so we’ll just break it down into some bite-sized pieces for you, shall we?

  • High-profile prodigal tech company owner at 24 (back in 1988) except he can’t manage money so he does some bank fraud and larceny instead. Great idea! Except he ends up going to prison for five years. He does not deign to tell us which things, but he goes to prison for bank fraud and larceny.
  • Out of prison, his spirit was crushed, so he did some more larcenying and then did some securities fraud because why not, really? He pleaded guilty to those little missteps back in 2002.
  • In 2005, an ex-boyfriend of JonZack crimes him, so he’s in the spotlight, so presto chango name change, he learns how to rip cable news to video, which apparently no one else knew how to do and Dan Abrams needed that for his media empire, and voila! you have Jon Nicosia.

That all sounds pretty bad, but it does not sound particularly weird, right? Like he just likes stealing money. He’s a small-time piker version of the guy from Wolf Of Wall Street. Except that he also did some much more eccentric, to put it mildly, things, while he was also crime spreeing.

According to an Associated Press report published in May 1988, Hildreth “often tried to trick employees into believing that New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump called to chat.” And: “Employees said Hildreth would disguise his voice and call himself, pretending to be Trump, then would leave the office door open as he conducted an imaginary conversation.”

His imagined chats with the Donald prefigured the downfall of his computer company, Massdata, and his 5-year prison sentence for defrauding investors and employees. The same report details how Hildreth and his 50-year-old mother tried to commit suicide in a Holiday Inn hotel room after police seized Massdata’s assets and charged Hildreth with larceny.

So basically he did this …

but then added a suicide pact with his mom. Nothing says “stable employee” like having imaginary conversations with famous people and … that other thing.

Though this was a big-time secret to the internet, it was apparently totally known to JonZach’s bosses at Mediaite.

[W]hen I applied to become a Mediaite employee, I had to provide my given name and social security number. I knew that they would eventually realize who I was — which they did. Would this be the end of my media career? Would I become an outcast who no one would work with?

At that time, I disclosed my situation to Mediaite management. After some deliberation, they judged me based on my work to that point, rather than my past. I have since become managing editor at Mediaite, where I work with the site’s editor-in-chief, Andrew Kirell, coordinating coverage and editing video, among other duties.

Dan Abrams, the founder of this not-so-little media empire and the person that hired JonZack knowing all the felonyness and larceny and fake name, got hisself out of there, mostly, before this all came to light, and this surprises no one.


As of now, Nicosia remains on the masthead as managing editor at Mediaite with Andrew Kirell as Editor-in-Chief. Kirell was named Editor in Chief in November 2013. [Note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Kirell was named Editor-in-Chief the day before Hildreth’s column was posted.]

So, you cannot get fired for fake name secret past Donald Trump impersonating behavior at Mediaite. Meanwhile, the Editrix fires us once a week for failing to remember where to put punctuation in parentheses. Life is so unfair.

[Did things get weirder than this? Do we now know that the guy pretended to be a surgeon, among other things? Oh yes we do!]

[Mediaite/Capital New York/Gawker]

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