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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Second University of Florida student charged with theft

Gainesville Police arrested a second member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and charged him with stealing about $600 worth of plastic sheets from a Home Depot last week.

Brandon N. Fernandez, 19, of 1015 NW 21st Ave., was charged Tuesday with theft and fleeing the scene after Home Depot employees tried to stop him on March 14.

Fernandez, Austin Mobley and a third person drove away from the Home Depot in another fraternity member’s car, according to police. Fernandez did not return a message from the Alligator seeking comment Wednesday.

Fernandez, Mobley and the third person loaded six boxes of plastic sheets into a cart and left it near the garden center exit of Home Depot, located at 5150 NW 13th St. Mobley then distracted a cashier while Fernandez pushed the cart out into the parking lot, according to police.

The store manager and a security guard stopped the group at their car. The three gave the boxes back but drove away while a Home Depot employee called police.

GPD investigators found the license plate on a surveillance video and got in contact with Mobley, who turned himself in March 15. Mobley later told officers Fernandez was with him.

The trio planned to use the plastic sheets at a Sigma Phi Epsilon pool party last weekend, according to police. The third person has not yet been identified, and GPD spokeswoman Cpl. Angelina Valuri said she expects the investigation will continue.

Fernandez and Mobley have been temporarily kicked out of the fraternity. Carlos Gordian, president of the UF chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said he wants to see if the two will be prosecuted before making a final decision.

Mobley met with a Sigma Phi Epsilon review board Sunday, but Gordian said he did not know Fernandez was involved until he was arrested.

Gordian also said he does not know who the third person was or if that person is affiliated with the fraternity. Fernandez did not return Gordian’s calls Wednesday afternoon.

“I have not spoken with Austin or Brandon individually, and I can’t talk about all the specifics in this case because I don’t know them yet,” Gordian said. “But I can tell you Sig Ep does not condone these actions. We take them seriously.”

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@alligator.org.

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