For more than 40 years, Gary Medrow has wielded a telephone the way a cheque forger wields a pen. Except instead of faking signatures for financial gain, Medrow has used the phone as a disguise to impersonate people in officialdom - from police officers to accident investigators - to indulge his favourite fetish: persuading complete strangers to carry each other around. The latest persona adopted by the 68-year-old serial impostor, according to a criminal complaint, is that of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photojournalist, calling two female high school athletes to set up photo shoots in which they would hold each other upon their shoulders.
Medrow, of Greenfield, was arrested on Friday and charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with two counts each of telephone harassment and disorderly conduct in connection with the incident involving two Cedarburg High School girls.
Authorities in Franklin, Verona, Hartland and Mequon are investigating similar incidents, which involve female athletes who have had their pictures in the newspaper, Cedarburg police Officer Joe Biliskov said.
Medrow, a Vietnam War veteran, has spent time since 1968 in jails, prisons and mental institutions in connection with similar crimes, placing similar telephone calls even when he was locked up.
"I feel it's an addiction, and if I could get over the problem I could lead a normal life," Medrow told then-Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Ralph Adam Fine before receiving a 4 1/2 -year prison term in 1981, adding that the routine somehow eased his tension and anxiety.
During his "careers" Medrow has talked cheerleaders into lifting one another, motel workers into carrying one another and business executives into toting their secretaries around the office.
In 2006 he was accused of calling women in Waukesha and Monroe counties and identifying himself as Department of Motor Vehicle crash investigator "Mike Clark."
He told one woman his investigation required her to carry around another female so he could determine if they were involved in a hit-and-run accident in which a woman was carried away from the scene by another woman.
In that case, however, prosecution was deferred when Medrow was placed on medications to help him curb his compulsion.
According to court records, he managed to stay out of trouble until this year, when in June he became the subject of a harassment restraining order in a Milwaukee County case.
Then, this month, "Mike Clark" was back in action.
According to the criminal complaint in the Cedarburg case, Medrow telephoned a 17-year-old Cedarburg High School girl, identified himself as a Journal Sentinel photographer named "Michael Clark" and told her he wanted to take photos of her and a 14-year-old female athlete from the school.
After persuading the 17-year-old's mother to give him the telephone number of the 14-year-old, he arranged to meet them at the Cedarburg High School field house, where, he said, he wanted the girls to pose atop each others shoulders.
The school contacted Journal Sentinel security personnel, who said no one with the name Michael Clark worked for the company as a photojournalist. The school then contacted police.
Cedarburg police then called Hartland police, who then contacted Medrow, who admitted he had a problem for which he was seeking psychiatric treatment.