DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit-area impostor who inspired an award-winning film is returning to court in a case of alleged identity theft.
Federal prosecutors in Detroit anticipate a guilty plea Thursday from William Street Jr., who authorities say was found with documents and a doctor’s coat bearing the name of a Maryland man, William Benn Stratton.
The FBI says Street obtained diplomas, transcripts and a U.S. Military Academy class ring in the name of William Benn Stratton, who’s not actually a doctor. He was arrested in February in suburban Detroit.
Street, who was arrested in February, told the FBI that he decided to assume Stratton’s identity after reading about the former Green Beret running a marathon, according to a court filing. He obtained diplomas, transcripts and a U.S. Military Academy class ring in Stratton’s name, the FBI said.
The white coat had Stratton’s name and the name of a University of Michigan medical clinic. Stratton is not actually a doctor.
“[Street] was at U of M, saw the lab coat laying around and he picked it up. He’s just an opportunist. If he sees something, he takes it and takes on that role,” said Robert Antal, a Plymouth Township police detective.
Street has convictions going back decades and even fooled the Detroit Tigers into giving him a tryout in the 1970s. He was the inspiration for “Chameleon Street,” which won a major prize at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival. Defense attorney Joseph Arnone acknowledges Street’s “long history” with the law.
In a previous interview with the Detroit News, Street said the tryout with the Tigers was actually a huge turning point for him.
“That was the first time I found out how easy it was to get people to believe whatever you said as long as you said it right,” he said.
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