Imposter gets two prison terms, kindly lecture
By JULIE WIERNIK
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Expert imposter William Douglas Street received two prison terms and a kind lecture as he stood for sentencing Friday in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
Street, who posed as a University of Michigan law student in 1983-84, was sentenced to a prison term of 6 to 14 years for forging and cashing a classmate’s check. He was also sentenced to serve 4 1/2 to 10 years for using false pretenses to obtain an emergency loan from U-M law school. The sentences will be served concurrently.
“Everyone this court has heard from has been very much impressed by the talent, the ability and the intelligence of Mr. Street,” said Circuit Court Judge William F. Ager Jr.
“This man could have a tremendous career ahead of him. He could have made a great lawyer. . . I hope, when he is released, that he follows different lines than he has been following,” Ager said after sentencing.
While posing as a U-M law student, Street bilked the school of an $800 emergency loan by using the name of legitimate law student Daniel J. Schnee. Street also stole and forged personal checks belonging to Schnee, for the amount of $600.
During the past 10 years. Street has posed as a doctor, athlete, student and military officer. His most celebrated stunt was in 1971, when he won a tryout with the Detroit Tigers by pretending to be Jerry LeVias, at the time a star wide receiver for the Houston Oilers.
Supervisors in the City of Detroit’s Human Rights Department — where Street volunteered after presenting himself as a graduate law student - were very much impressed by his work.
“He can put together legal documents and legal briefs better than most lawyers,” said Philip Smith, a former supervisor who described Street as “brilliant” and “likable.”
Street, at Friday’s court appearance, said he hopes someone will give him opportunities for a career and a new life when he finishes serving his prison sentences.
He prepared this written statement for Judge Ager, but did not read it in court:
“The wrong I have done was not planned. I love people too much for that.”
The statement went on to blame the criminal justice system, “a system that would just as soon turn a deaf ear than listen and try to understand. A system that would just as soon banish, than try to welcome back.”