Police say scam artist did not break any laws

By: Nick McGurk and Alana Greenfogel Email
By: Nick McGurk and Alana Greenfogel Email

Notre Dame law students were sent an email Friday from Notre Dame officials saying a person identifying himself as Gary Stearley is posing as a law student and is not actually enrolled at the University.

The email goes on to say that on Thursday, he utilized law school services and interacted with several people in the law school.

A Gary Stearley has been involved in fake identity scams before and Notre Dame police suspect this is the same person. Notre Dame released a photo with the email taken from Stearley's MySpace and Facebook pages. His MySpace page also claims he's enrolled in the law school.

It may sound creepy, but at this point, Stearley did nothing criminal at Notre Dame. He didn't hurt anyone, steal anything or practice law without a license. He lived in a fantasy world and lied. It may be weird and unethical, but it's not illegal.

Notre Dame officials say they're not actively looking for Stearley, but if he shows back up on campus, they'll issue a trespassing citation.

Allan Klein and Justin Baker rent apartments in the same house as Stearley. They say the con-artist left the home Sunday morning with his laptop and a few belongings.

The roommates say they are shocked and had no idea Stearley was hiding something. Stearley had been living with them for about two months in a house on the 900 block of Harrison Avenue in South Bend.

He told them he'd graduated from the University of Michigan and had been accepted to Notre Dame Law School.

"There must be thousands of dollars worth of Notre Dame textbooks in his room. It's almost like he believed that he was a student,” said Baker.

The men say Stearley was very nice and intelligent. They say he didn't have a car so they would give him rides to the law school through their taxi service. Stearley gave one of his roommates a tour of the law building and typed a code to get into the building last week. He then put in another code to use the school’s fax machine.

He even interacted with people inside who knew him by name, said Baker.

Klein and Baker became suspicious and scared, though, after watching NewsCenter 16 on Saturday, when the story of Stearley posing as a law student was first reported. All three were watching TV together when they saw the story.

“I was bracing myself against the desk and the wall and thought that he was about to flip out or he was going to go nuts, and here, he's unearthed on TV, potentially being a criminal,” said Klein.

Later, Stearley told his roommates he would turn himself in to Notre Dame Police on Monday, and the roommates thought about it overnight.

Sunday morning, Klein and Baker went to tell him they'd prefer if he just moved out, but his room door was locked and apparently he'd snuck out the back door. Stearley took his laptop and some important papers, but he left most of his stuff behind – including various ID cards from other colleges, a drawer full of beepers, medications and surveillance equipment and a sword.

South Bend Police say they searched the home Sunday morning, but there is no word on where Stearley might be.

Stearley was arrested back in 2001 in Jacksonville, Florida for impersonating a physician's assistant, as well as trespassing and stealing at several hospitals.

Stearley also been spotted before in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Virginia, Georgia, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Notre Dame police are asking anyone with information on Gary Stearley or his whereabouts to call them at 574-631-5555.

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