Aug 1, 2013 3:54 PM by Matthew Schwartz
Investigators say Leonard Giso is an ex-con who has conned apartment hunters on Craigslist. Pima County Sheriffs Detectives say Giso put ads on the website for luxury apartments for rent, but that he has nothing to do with the apartments; he doesn't own or manage them.
Det. Elaine Parenteau of the fraud squad told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "There's an active warrant for his arrest, and it's basically for this fraud scheme. 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."
The apartments that the 51 year-old Giso allegedly advertised are in two complexes on the northwest side, less than a mile apart on West Linda Vista Boulevard, and are owned by the same man. Investigators say Giso gained access to the places after befriending the owner, whom they said was unaware of what Giso was doing.
Curtis Galloway of Tucson saw Giso's Craigslist ad on April 6, offering a furnished two-bedroom apartment at Summit Vista Luxury Apartments for $500 a month. Galloway then went to see it and he says he gave Giso $300 towards the first month's rent and security deposit. He showed us the receipt that was signed by Giso, although his signature is not legible.
Galloway said Giso seemed professional and was a smooth talker. "I had no reason to believe he was anything else but what he said he was," Galloway told us.
We asked Galloway, "Did it occur to you that $500 rent for a luxury two-bedroom apartment was too low?" He replied, "Yes. It did occur to me. I guess I just thought it was my lucky day, that it was a good deal."
But hours later that very same day, another apartment hunter, Steve Fredicks, says Giso rented him the same apartment! Fredricks says he gave Giso $400 towards the first month's rent and $250 towards the security deposit.
Fredricks said Giso was well-dressed and "had a good presentation."
Pima County Sheriffs' Detectives say Giso is wanted on five charges, including four felonies: Two for fraud, two for forgery, and for one misdemeanor for theft of services. That's for a separate case, for allegedly going on dates using town cars and not paying the company, "520 Transportation", whose owner tells News 4 that Giso owes him more than $800.
Records show that Giso has done prison time, including a two and a half year stin in Florida for Grand Theft. He was released in 2011.
Everyone we interviewed for this investigation told us Giso often bragged to them about being a heroic Army officer.
Curtis Galloway said Giso told him he was a Special Forces officer, and also was in the FBI and CIA, and that he was injured jumping out of an airplane. Galloway said (sarcastically) of Giso, "You know, he was the James Bond of the Army."
However, the News 4 Tucson Investigators contacted the office of military records, and a spokesperson told us, and records show, that Giso served 10 months in the Army in 1980-'81, and never rose above the rank of Private. And they said Giso was discharged after going absent without leave twice.
Sarah Williams says she met Giso in March on Cupid, an Internet dating site, and let him live with her for about six weeks. She says Giso left quickly in April, when he found out that deputies came looking for him.
Williams said, "He's a con man. But he's a sweet con man. Ok? That's how he gets over. I am sick to my stomach."
We asked Williams, "If you could talk to Giso now, what would you say?" She replied, "You reap what you sow."
If you know anything about the whereabouts of Leonard Giso, the Pima County Sheriff's Department wants you to call 9-1-1 or 88-CRIME immediately.
Remember, if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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