Samuel D. Gray & George Tyner

In 1904, Samuel D. Gray and his accomplice, George Tyner, were indicted for swindling merchants in Savannah, Georgia, throughout 1903. With the expertise of Postal Inspector Fred Peer, both men were caught, but only one was convicted.

The Crime

By 1904, Samuel D. Gray already had a reputation that preceded him to postal inspectors, being caught multiple times in prior swindling cases. In May 1904, Gray, with the help of his brother-in-law, George Tyner, stole the identity of a merchant by the name of Nathan mayo. Using Mayo's reputation and Gray's communication skills, they successfully used the mails to swindle merchants around Savannah, Georgia, from their home in Red Lodge, Montana.

The scam was to have the merchants ship merchandise to Rosewood, Florida, where the real Mayo had been operating his business. Gray would then intercept the goods at a different location, claiming items were shipped to the wrong port and using the payments from merchants as proof. Once he had acquired the goods, they were shipped to their store in Montana and sold for personal gain.

Investigation and Manhunt

It wasn't until Nathan Mayo received a message from one of his merchants in Rosewood, Florida, urging for payment, that Mr. Mayo knew his name by being used by fraudsters. By the time the news reached Postal Inspector Fred Peer, Gray had already disappeared. Inspectors first suspected that Gray had fled to France, but they soon discovered he had fled to Puerto Rico under the name Samuel Griy.

It took until 1907 to locate Tyner and Gray. Once both were in custody, a problem occurred with indicting Gray. Tyner was the one whose name was used on all the fraudulent mailings and who opened the storefront in Montana,. There was no paper trail to convict Gray. George Tyner, on the other hand, was easily convicted. He would serve 4 months in the Helena Penitentiary.

Arrest and Punishment

In a report by Inspector Peer, his disappointment shows. Due to the lack of evidence directly tied to Gray and the fact he was able to escape to Puerto Rico for some time, he was not convicted of this crime. He was, however, convicted for similar crimes in 1910 and was serving time in the Washington Penitentiary. Inspectors fought diligently to have Gray indicted on federal crimes rather than state crimes, but this was dismissed.

Upon his release in 1912, inspectors wanted to re-arrest Gray for his part in the 1904 swindle. Unfortunately, this was dismissed once again. Once a scammer, always a scammer. Gray continued his life of crime, and he was arrested on mail fraud charges on at least five other occasions.


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