An Orange County man who fled while awaiting trial was sentenced to 31 years and four months in prison Friday for committing $2.8 million in fraud by stealing the identities of more than a dozen victims and using them to buy a home, open lines of credit and even try to purchase a boat.

A jury found Gene Anthony Franklin Jr., 34, of Tustin guilty of 46 felony counts, including identity theft, false impersonation, grand theft by false pretense, conspiracy, forgery and attempted extortion by threat.

Prosecutors said the criminal activity started in late 2006, when Franklin used a man's personal information to buy a $685,000 Huntington Beach home without his consent.

Franklin was arrested after a 2007 standoff with SWAT officers in Huntington Beach but posted his $1-million bail using one of three forged property transfer documents.

He fled to Mexico but was captured after failing to appear for a February 2008 pretrial hearing in his fraud case.

-- Tony Barboza

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