The Investigators

Nov 21, 2013 12:12 AM by Matthew Schwartz

Sheriffs arrest 'Craiglist con'

TUCSON - "You can run but you can't hide."

That was the reaction from Steve Fredricks about the capture of a guy cops call a "Craigslist con man."

Fredericks is one of several alleged victims of former fugitive Leonard Giso. The News 4 Tucson Investigators introduced you to Giso in July, when he was on the run and the Pima County Sheriff's Department had a warrant out for his arrest.

Detectives said Giso put an ad on Craigslist for luxury apartments for rent after gaining access from the owner. However, investigators say Giso had nothing to do with the apartments; he didn't own or manage them, he was simply a friend of the owner's, who, detectives say, did not know about the scheme.

Sheriff's Department Det. Elaine Parenteau told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "Several people responded to that ad, and would give him money as a down payment, or part down payment, part first month's rent, you know. He wanted cash, of course, and they never saw him again."

Detectives say Giso even rented the same apartment at Summitt Vista on the city's Northwest side to two different people on the same day.

Giso's life on the run is over. He was arrested without incident recently by U.S. Marshalls in Gwinnett, Ga., near Atlanta. His current home is a cell in the Pima County Jail. He's charged with four felonies, two for fraudulent scheme and two for forgery. He's also charged with one misdemeanor, for theft of services.

Investigators say Giso used town cars from Jason Colehour's company, "520 Transportation", to try to impress dates. They say Giso never paid for the rides. Colehour showed us Giso's unpaid invoices totaling over $800. Colehour says Giso claimed he was an executive with a convention planning company.

Colehour told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "He was pretty smooth, you know he just has an aura of an individual that can be trusting. I think it because he's refined what he does. I think this is what he's done all of his life and I think that's why he's good at it."

Indeed, records show Giso has done prison time before, including a two and a half year stint in Florida for grand theft, getting released just two years ago. Several people we interviewed, including alleged Craigslist victim Curtis Galloway, told us Giso often bragged about being a heroic Army officer.

"You know, he was the James Bond of the Army," is how Galloway says Giso portrayed himself.

But the News 4 Tucson Investigators obtained Giso's military records. They show, and a government spokesman confirmed, that Giso served ten months in the Army, never rising above private, and was discharged after he went AWOL twice.

Steve Fredericks says he gave Giso $650 towards an apartment in April, before Giso vanished. Now Fredricks says he's learned a lesson, "Not to be so trusting, and take the name of that person and Google it."

We asked the transportation company owner, Jason Colehour, "If you could talk to Leonard Giso, what would you say?" He replied, "Enjoy your stay on your state paid vacation."

Giso could face up to about 30 years in prison if convicted of all charges. He also could be ordered to pay back the alleged victims. However, his bond has been set at $35,000, which means he'd be released if he posted $3500, and he hasn't been able to do that.

Giso declined to speak with the News 4 Tucson Investigators for this report. We'll keep you posted on this case as it winds its way through court.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call our tip line, (520) 955-4444.

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