Crime

He took their phones and promised them credit, police say. Now he’s facing charges

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A Centre Hall man allegedly stole 11 cellphones and one tablet and resold four cellphones for profit, swindling 15 people out of $2,845 over the course of four months.

Jesse Stutzman, 31, was charged Monday with three felonies — theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Between December 2018 and April, Stutzman, who was a salesman at the Wireless Zone Verizon store at 2021 S. Atherton St. in College Township, allegedly talked 11 people into “trading” their old cellphones and one tablet into him for promised store credit that never materialized, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Stutzman no longer works at Verizon, according to the affidavit.

The store’s manager, Jude Kuchenbrod, found there were no records of these phones being traded in, the affidavit showed. Customers reported that Stutzman lied to them when they realized their accounts had not been credited.

During that time, Stutzman also resold four of the stolen phones to four different people for a total of $300, and traded one stolen phone into GameStop for $36, according to the affidavit. Several people who bought stolen phones reported they were causing them problems, police said.

Over the course of the investigation, State College police Detective David Scicchitano also found that Stutzman traded 43 cellphones into GameStop and received $4,847.15 in cash back from Feb. 14, 2018 to Feb. 26, 2019.

Stutzman made $924.71 in commission from talking victims into signing up for new cellphones, some of which they did not need, according to the affidavit.

He is also facing similar charges in Huntingdon County, stemming from a 2018 incident, and plead guilty to theft by unlawful taking in a separate incident in 2018, according to court records.

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