DRAPER (ABC4 News) – It’s a stolen identity case that has attorneys and judges scratching their heads: How did a Kearns man go to prison pretending to be his younger sibling?
When he was pulled over in December of 2016 with heroin and a gun in his car, Aaron Paul Fritz, 32, told police he was his younger brother, Bela Andrew Fritz, 31, who had a less extensive criminal record.
Aaron continued to pose as Bela through his four month trial and when convicted, he got the sentence Bela would have received according to Utah Assistant Solicitor General John Nielsen.
“He served based on his brother’s identity and criminal history,” Nielsen told ABC4 News Monday. “He served what he would have gotten had that been his actual criminal history but it really infected the entire process with fraud.”
It wasn’t until he was already in prison that an alert corrections officer noticed that despite only being a year apart, Aaron and Bela don’t look anything like each other.
“They brought up the picture of Bela Fritz and it didn’t match the person standing in front of the officer so he checked into it,” Nielsen said. “And that’s when according to the guard that he admitted ‘No, actually I’m Aaron not my brother Bela’.”
Now the State Attorney General’s Office is asking for a “do-over”. They’re seeking to have the conviction overturned so they can try Aaron again, this time as himself and get justice for Bela.
“Now his brother’s record because of his lie showed convictions that he didn’t have,” Nielsen said. “Things that he didn’t do so, in essence, an innocent person was convicted and that was very concerning to the State even though the person who was suffering the consequences was the person who did commit the crime.”
Ironically Bela Fritz has four previous convictions for lying about his identity.
It may be a Fritz family tradition. Aaron and Bela’s grandmother told ABC4 that Aaron and Bela’s father and uncle used to claim to be each other “all the time”.