UPDATE: St. Joseph County brothers face federal charges

South Bend, Ind. A pair of St. Joseph County brothers who've been convicted of scams ranging from home improvement fraud to stolen property sales are facing charges once again.

Rick and Gary Franklin, along with Richard Maxson, are facing several federal counts for allegedly running an elaborate scheme involving stolen vehicles.

It's a scam Rick claimed to know nothing about when we confronted him in April.

"If I was doing something illegal or against the law, I would think police would be here," he said at the time.
But, police were on to him. Charging documents outline at least a dozen incidents where the Franklins or Maxson stole a truck or construction equipment with the intent to sell.

In many cases, they're accused of taking the vehicles from businesses or work sites.

As part of the conspiracy, charging documents claim the men bought Chinese trailers and used the titles and VIN numbers on the stolen property, making them seem more legitimate to potential buyers.

While his case isn't included in the indictment, Minnesota resident Jason Siveny says he's one of the people who fell for the scam.

He bought a snowmobile trailer from the Franklins on eBay earlier this year. And, he says he did his homework before doing so.

"We checked the title, it came up as clear so I thought, let's setup a time to go meet and get it," Siveny said.

He spent about $1,000 to make the trip and handed over a $3,900 cashier's check to the brothers after inspecting the trailer. But, once Siveny got back to Minnesota, he discovered he'd been duped. A local police officer came to his home and said the trailer was stolen.

"This guy and his brother have been in and out of jail since 1995," Siveny said in April. "I do know the trailer I bought was stolen in Michigan. So, I'm just wondering, how the heck are these guys still on the street?"

It's a question many residents have been asking for years. Now, some are hopeful the federal charges will prevent the brothers and Maxson from doing more harm.

Rick and Maxson were arrested on the charges Monday. Gary was already behind bars in Elkhart County, serving a three-year sentence for home improvement fraud.

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