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Homeless man arrested for $20,000 in cell phones and services

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Posted at 2:58 AM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 01:00:27-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) - A homeless man was arrested on grand theft charges after he was accused of fraudulently obtaining cell phones and services worth more than $20,000 from Tallahassee businesses.

Jamal Marquis Franklin, 33, was booked into the Leon County Detention Center on Saturday on two charges: grand theft of $10,00 or more but less than $20,000, and grand theft of $5,000 or more but less than $10,000.

To obtain the phones, Franklin used various names for himself and for a music business he claimed to operate.

Beginning on Feb. 10, 2017, Franklin fraudulently obtained iPhones from a Sprint store in Tallahassee, a Tallahassee Police Department investigator wrote in a probable cause affidavit.

Police began an investigation into Franklin's purchases after they responded to an incident at Tallahassee Credit Union on March 9, 2017. There they found Franklin had five Apple iPhone 7 boxes, four of which were unopened and appeared new.

Franklin told the police a female chased him to the area and he wanted a ride to the Kearney Center because he did not feel safe going home.

Before transporting Franklin to the center, which provides services for homeless people, officers searched his belongings and found the phones.

He told the officers he had gotten the phones for his music business and had paid them off, the TPD investigator wrote in the court document. But Franklin, in a later interview, told the investigator he had not made any payments on the phones.

On March 28, 2017, a Sprint fraud investigator told the TPD investigator that an account connected to a music business Franklin claimed to own owed a balance of $15,985 and the phones were shipped to an Old Bainbridge Road address.

Franklin phoned the TPD investigator on April 4, 2017, and came to the police department to talk with investigators although an investigator told Franklin he did not have to talk with them. He claimed to operate a music business that manages many artists.

On Sept. 26, 2017, a TPD officer who responded to an AT&T store in Tallahassee found Franklin. A person at the business said Franklin appeared to be trying to open a fraudulent account.

Franklin had tried to buy ten iPhones under the name of a business with a New York address.

Before the AT&T store - one of two in Tallahassee where Franklin had transactions - realized the account was not legitimate, the store had assigned four iPhones to Franklin's account.

The store must return the phones to Apple and will not receive credit for them, the TPD investigator wrote, causing the store a $2,800 loss.

First telling the officer he had no indentification, the court document says, Franklin then said his identification was in his pocket.

After the officer handcuffed him and read him his Miranda Rights, Franklin initially said he would talk but then asked for his lawyer.

On September 27, 2017, a Sprint investigator told a TPD investigator that Franklin had opened 18 lines and owed Sprint $18,986 in devices and fees.

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