The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 05, 2019 1:00 am

2 charged in iPhone theft plot

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Two Fort Wayne residents were charged Wednesday in a scheme to steal iPhones with contracts from a local Walmart.

Lakia Via, 20, of the 4800 block of Weisser Park Avenue, was charged with 35 counts including forgery, fraud and theft and one count of corrupt business influence and misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.

Laron Gadlen, 26, of the 900 block of Oaklawn Court, was charged Wednesday with 11 counts of fraud and one count of corrupt business influence. 

Gadlen, an employee at the Coldwater Road Walmart who worked as a T-Roc phone representative, helped secure 13 phone contracts using 11 different falsified and fraudulent names and Social Security numbers. 

Total cost of the thefts amounted to $14,325.68, court documents said. 

Walmart surveillance video footage showed Via seeking help from Gadlen and paying him $100 for each sale. Via told police she sold the iPhone 11s or iPhone Maxs for $300 each. The thefts were committed over the course of a month, court documents indicated. 

Tuesday, when a Fort Wayne police officer approached Via around 3:45 p.m. as she was leaving the store, he told her to stop and put her hands behind her back. She looked at the officer and ran for the front door. A few feet away, another officer was waiting, court documents said. 

Both Via and Gadlen were released on their own recognizance and have court hearings Monday.

Sign up for our crime and courts newsletter

Sent daily when events warrant