School tie may have led to apprehension of alleged credit card thief

mcarroll@centredaily.comMarch 21, 2013 

A 20-year-old man charged with stealing a credit card and racking up a $900 bill was allegedly identified after using the stolen card to purchase shoes from a former classmate.

State police allege Cody Baranak, 20, of Port Matilda, used a credit card reported stolen from a vehicle to make 28 purchases throughout Patton, Ferguson and College townships between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31.

In a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, police said they were tracking down an unauthorized purchase made at a shoe store in the Nittany Mall when an employee at the store remembered selling the shoes to Baranak, who he went to school with.

When troopers questioned Baranak about the incident in January, he was wearing the shoes, police said.

Baranak told police he found the card in a backpack that was in the bushes near a CATA bus terminal.

He faces nine felony charges, including counts of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, forgery and access device fraud, as well as several misdemeanors.

In a separate case, Baranak was charged earlier this month with 15 felonies and numerous misdemeanors for allegedly making $770 in purchases on another credit card reported stolen from a vehicle.

State College police said in a criminal complaint that they identified Baranak making the unauthorized purchases at Wal-Mart on North Atherton Street using video surveillance footage from the store.

Baranak waived his right to a preliminary hearing last week on those charges. He remains in the Centre County Correctional Facility on $1,000 bail, according to court documents.

His attorney, Deborah Lux, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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