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Homeless used to buy iPhones in Pasadena left stranded, unpaid

Dozens of people picked up on skid row by an enterprising man hoping to secure a load of new iPhones said they were left unpaid and stranded at the Pasadena Apple store.

Dominoe Moody, 43, said he was taken to Pasadena from a downtown Los Angeles homeless mission with several van-loads of people to wait in line overnight for the latest iPhone.

He was promised $40, but said he wasn’t paid because after handing the man the iPhone, the man was taken away by police when people became upset with him.

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“It didn’t go right. I stood out here all night,” he said, adding that he has no way to get home.

Pasadena Police Lt. Jason Clawson confirmed that a fight broke out about 9 a.m. as a man left the store with multiple iPhones.  

Other people who were in line and hired by the man began fighting with him because they said they weren’t being paid enough, Clawson said. Police escorted the man from the scene, he said. 

Most people weren’t paid by the man, Moody said, estimating that 70 to 80 were recruited and driven to the store to wait in line.

“They need to bring him back ... to pick up the people that he brought here,” said Vivian Fields, 49. “We have no way to get home.”

Fields, who is in a wheelchair, said she was approached by recruiters at a homeless shelter on skid row and arrived in Pasadena on Thursday about 7 p.m. She waited overnight at the store.

Pasadena police are not investigating the incident, Clawson said.

"It's not a police issue. It's a business issue," he said.

Clawson estimated that at least 200 people were outside of the store Friday morning waiting for it to open. The store hired two Pasadena police officers to keep control of the crowd, he said.

Police arrested George Westbrook, 23, of Compton and Lamar Mitchell, 43, of Pasadena for fighting in line outside of the store earlier Friday morning, he said.

The newest edition of Apple’s iconic phone is being released in various colors, including gold. Consumers also have the option of buying a less-expensive version with a plastic case. For the first time ever, the devices are being released in China on the same day they were made available everywhere else.

As in past iPhone releases, it appears some people are paying others to wait in line to buy the devices so they can be resold later for a profit.

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Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer | @josephserna

Samantha.Schaefer@latimes.com | joseph.serna@latimes.com

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