California man pleads guilty in Ada County credit card scam

U.S. District Court in Boise.
U.S. District Court in Boise.

Derrick Courtney Franklin II, 28, admitted Monday in federal court to obtaining more than $20,000 in gift cards from three Boise and Meridian businesses last summer using stolen credit card numbers.

The Los Angeles man and a co-defendant, Jassmine M. Pettaway, 26, of Inglewood, Calif., flew to Boise from Los Angeles on Aug. 3, 2015, to make fraudulent purchases with cards embossed with credit card numbers belonging to people mostly within the Treasure Valley.

The following day, a Shopko security officer notified the Meridian Police Department that a store had video showing Franklin and Pettaway trying to make a purchase by swiping multiple credit cards, all of which were declined.

Detective Nick Kulack contacted Officer Cody Evans with the Boise Police Department, who was able to obtain still photographs of the pair from security footage at an Old Navy Store, where Pettaway made two purchases.

Evans distributed the photos of Franklin and Pettaway to local police agencies. Detectives confirmed with American Express that the credit card number used in the transaction had been stolen.

Home Depot reported the loss of $529 in fraudulent purchases by the defendants. Security footage showed the pair making purchases at a store on East Federal Way.

Kulack was able to identify a vehicle the pair rented after learning the pair left a Toys R Us store after unsuccessfully trying to buy two iPads.

At a Nike store in Meridian, Pettaway bought $18,000 worth of gift cards and a small amount of merchandise, according to court documents. Franklin told a clerk they were buying the gift cards for a charity.

Pettaway also paid $782 at Destination XL in Meridian for gift cards and a wallet.

The suspects were located at the Boise Airport after a federal air marshal saw Franklin get out of a cab and crouch down. Police later found a number of counterfeit credit cards inside a drain near the spot where Franklin had been seen crouching.

Both Franklin and Pettaway pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years, while aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence consecutive to any other sentence.

Since her arrest, Pettaway has found a job and continued her education, attorney David Leroy wrote in a court filing. Leroy said his client was used by Franklin, a family friend. Franklin preyed upon her limited means and financial difficulties, Leroy wrote in a court document.

“The defendant, subsequent to her decision to cooperate, has suffered threats, blocked phone calls, and an apparent attempt to run her down by automobile, the later event producing physical injuries, in retaliation for or discouragement of said cooperation,” Leroy wrote.

Pettaway is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 29, followed by Franklin on Oct. 18.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell