Tustin's Identity Theft King Sentenced to 31 Years

It seems Gene Anthony Franklin Jr. suffered from multiple personality disorder — the kind that turns plastic into opulence under someone else's name. The 34-year-old master identity thief managed to repeatedly win the trust of his victims and get just enough information about them to subsequently become them and buy big mounds of property and open up credit lines, under their names. How these details escaped real estate agents eager to close deal, is unsettling.

Franklin, who lived in Tustin, used licenses and credit cards with other people's names, and often his own photograph, to buy (or attempt to buy) homes, boats, and open up lines of credit. Police once found dozens of credit cards and driver's licenses with other people's names on them in his car after it was towed.

Franklin once generated a police standoff over his son, and even befriended convicted wife killer Marvin Vernis Smith in jail. He brazenly managed to swindle him too, and posted $1 million in bail with Smith's properties before fleeing to Mexico with an old girlfriend last year. He was caught for the last time and returned to the U.S. in March 2008. In April of this year he was convicted of 46 white collar felony counts for fraudulently stealing $2.8 million from all the real people whose personas he'd appropriated. He faced up to 73 years in jail; He was sentenced today to 31 years and four months.

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