Detroit man went to prison posing as his dead brother
The deception was not discovered until June 4, just as the man was about to be released on parole
By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press
LANSING, Mich. — When Kevin Lee Gray was arrested for home invasion in 2017, he gave police the name of his dead brother — Sammie Lee Gray.
Somehow, the 37-year-old Detroit man went through the Wayne County court system and was convicted under his brother’s name, and he was sent to state prison as Sammie Lee Gray.
In fact, in order to find Kevin Gray on the Michigan Department of Corrections website, one must still type in the name of his younger brother Sammie. Then, Kevin Gray’s photo will appear, but with his brother Sammie’s name, date of birth, and the age of 35 his brother would now be had he not died in 2006, when he was 22.
The deception was not discovered until June 4, just as Gray was about to be released on parole from Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson.
“This parolee was not willing/able to correctly ID himself as he came through the gate,” an alert prison official wrote that day in an urgent memo, which was released by the department.
“He seemed not to know his date of birth, his soc # or any of the other identifiers commonly used,” and we “are not comfortable with allowing him to leave,” the officer wrote. “He appears to resemble the picture on his current face sheet but everything else does not make sense.”
It was back to his cell for Gray, who is now expected to be paroled this week, department spokesman Chris Gautz told the Free Press.
It’s not clear why Gray’s true identity was not detected much sooner, through his fingerprints.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office knew Gray’s true identify, as well as his aliases, spokeswoman Maria Miller said. But she could not explain why Kevin Gray’s conviction was registered under the name and date of birth of his brother, as shown by court records on Friday.
That could have been a clerical error, Miller said.
Though prison officials can only speculate, Gautz said Gray may have posed as his late brother in a bid for leniency.
Sammie Lee Gray had a much less extensive criminal history than Kevin Gray, records show. Sammie Gray had never been to prison, but was sentenced to six months in the county jail in 2002 for attempted possession of marijuana, records show.
Kevin Gray, who is completing a sentence of 18 months to 15 years after pleading guilty before Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway, had been to prison twice before. He was locked up for felony firearms offenses in 2007 and crimes related to drugs and stolen property in 2004.
Gautz said that although the incorrect name and date of birth for Kevin Gray appears on the prison website, the criminal history the website lists for him is accurate. That’s because criminal histories are tied to fingerprints, not names and dates of birth, he said.
Changing the name and date of birth on prison records could require a court order, which Gautz said prison officials are seeking after the Free Press flagged the issue.
“People coming to us with multiple aliases is not uncommon, but we have to take them based on what their name is on the official Judgement of Sentence from the court,” Gautz said.
“It appears the court did not verify his legal name and just went based on what he said his name was at the time of arrest,” and “only the court can change the name,” he said.
Joseph Dillard, the court-appointed attorney who represented Gray, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Miller said Gray did not get off easier as a result of using his dead brother’s name.
Prosecutors were aware of his true identify and brought a habitual offender enhancement against him because of his prior convictions, Miller said Friday. That was dropped as part of a plea deal when Gray pleaded guilty to home invasion, she said.
“I know that we knew, so they should have known,” Miller said of the Corrections Department.
But she could not explain why the name and birth date listed for Gray in court records both belong to his late brother.
Gautz said it’s not clear why the Corrections Department did not detect the false name earlier, but he said the significant time gap between Gray’s last admission to prison in 2018 and his previous release in 2012 was a factor.
Could Gray face additional charges for providing authorities with false information?
Miller said Wayne County won’t charge him because they knew his true identity at the time of his conviction.
If the Corrections Department wants to make a complaint about the information Gray gave them, they would talk to officials in Jackson County, where Parnall prison is located, she said.
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