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Man sentenced for snatching $15 from victim

Thomas E. Branson
Thomas E. Branson
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 02:51 pm

A homeless man was sentenced to jail time for snatching $15 from a victim last November.

Thomas E. Branson, 44, was sentenced Tuesday in Allen Superior Court to serve 2 1/2 years in the Allen County Jail for theft with a prior conviction.

At sentencing, one charge of robbery was dismissed against Branson, who pleaded guilty April 19.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, the victim was sitting in an electric scooter at 12:27 p.m. Nov. 23 at the southeast corner of West Jefferson Boulevard and Fairfield Avenue when Branson approached him and asked for $20. The victim pulled out his money and counted it — a $5 and 10 $1 bills — when Branson said, "You shouldn't have your money out, someone might snatch it like this." The victim said Branson took the money, and when he got his cellphone out to call police, Branson knocked it out of the victim's hand and ran eastbound.

About that time a couple waiting at the light at that intersection told police they saw Branson take money out of the victim's lap, knock a cellphone out of the victim's hand and run to the Shell gas station. They pulled into the lot, and the man got out of his vehicle and approached Branson about taking the money. Branson began to run again, and the man called 911, the affidavit said.

The couple followed the man to Parkview Field, where they told police Branson gave some of the money to a woman for cigarettes. The couple lost track of Branson as he ran west on Brackenridge Street.

By this time, police caught up with Branson, who was positively identified by the victim at the Shell gas station, according to the affidavit.

During a police interview, Branson told police he approached the victim to buy him a burger with his last $2, but the victim said he really wanted a beer and Branson took his money back as he left the man alone. 

At booking, officers noted Branson had a $5 bill and five $1 bills tucked into his shorts.

Branson has 147 days' jail credit.

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