IM this article to a friend!

June 2, 2005

'German' mugged in park turns out to be alleged American con artist

From: Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News, WA - Jun 2, 2005


PORT ANGELES -- Conniving con man or desperate plea for help?

Claiming to be a deaf German tourist, Tony Dean Branch, 29, told police he had been assaulted and mugged at Erickson Park last Saturday, leaving him penniless, without identification and stranded.

But on Tuesday morning Branch was arrested by the Port Angeles Police Department for allegedly conning multiple good Samaritans out of hundreds of dollars.

Police also discovered Branch, who goes by Wolfjunge Wolfsburger, has a history of giving false information to police.

On Wednesday afternoon, he appeared before Clallam County Superior Court Judge Ken Williams for charges of second-degree theft by deception and giving false or misleading information to a public servant.

Wearing shorts and a T-shirt, Branch communicated through a court-appointed sign language interpreter, made difficult by handcuff-shackles.

Bail was set at $2,500 -- half the amount requested by Deputy Prosecutor John Prestiss. His case has been turned over to the public defender.

Name changed, he says

Branch told the court that he legally changed his name to Wolfjunge M. Wolfsburger in Florida. He said he didn't ask for the money and planned to give it back.

He only wanted to get help, he said, because he suffers from mental problems.

''I'm not a bad man,'' he said. ''I'm just looking for help.''

Williams also ordered an evaluation by Peninsula Mental Health and addressed Branch as ''Mr. Wolfsburger.''

Police became suspicious after realizing ''several inconsistencies'' in Branch's story, said Port Angeles Police Detective Sgt. Steve Coyle. An officer working the case contacted two people who rode into town with Branch for more information.

''We put the information together with the inconsistencies and sat down and had a conversation with him,'' Coyle said.

Copyright © 2004 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.