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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

Next two URI Forensic Science Partnership
Seminars to feature lectures on con men, arson

This week’s talk to feature professional magician

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 26, 2003 -- A 22-year-old professional magician will address the University of Rhode Island’s Forensic Science Partnership Seminar Series on the topic of "Con Men-Fraud, Confidence Crime and the Occult" on Thursday, Feb. 27.

The following week on Thursday, March 6, a representative of the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Laboratory will discuss "Forensic Science and Arson."

All seminar talks are free and open to the public and held at 4 p.m. in Pastore Hall, Room 124.

Matthew J. Cassiere, a magician, sideshow performer and consultant, will discuss the con man and his methods. He will outline the methods of card sharks, identity thieves and those who work in the occult.

The talk will touch upon some of the psychological techniques used by the modern day grifters and how their methods have evolved. Perhaps most notable will be the thorough discussion of their occult connections with people who talk to the dead, read minds, bend metal, and do the seemingly impossible. URI Chemistry Professor Jimmie Oxley said Cassiere may also give demonstrations of such feats.

Cassiere is a member of numerous organizations including The International Brotherhood of Magicians, The Society of American Magicians, and The New England Skeptics Association. His career has taken him throughout North America and Europe under the guise of "Matt The Knife." He has consulted for technology firms, writers, and casino security forces. Besides being a full-time student he is working on his first book.

Next week on March 6, Carl Chasteen, of the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Lab, will discuss the major issues regarding the recognition and collection of forensic evidence from fire scenes. A discussion of the nature of ignitable liquid accelerants and their behavior in fires will lead to an overview of fire debris analysis including extraction methods and instrumentation.

Chasteen began his career in fire debris analysis in 1979 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in forensic chemistry from The Ohio University. He began as a chemist with the Ohio Fire Marshal's Laboratory where over 12 years he conducted more than 12,000 analyses of fire debris.

In 1992 he moved to Florida to assume management of the Florida Fire Marshal's Laboratory, which serves all 14 million residents of Florida by providing forensic analysis of fire and explosion debris. He is currently chair of the Technical Working Group on Fire and Explosions as well as chair of the International Association of Arson Investigator's Forensic Science Committee. He is also a member of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and the American Society for Testing and Materials E-30 Committee on Criminalistics. He is also a Certified Public Manager in the State of Florida.

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