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Mark Tremonti Man Posing As Tremonti Arrested
Posted on 04-30-2003 at 12:36 AM

A man who had people on Clearwater Beach believing they were socializing with the lead guitarist of the rock band Creed is under arrest after police say he used his claim to fame for hotel charges and to steal a woman's credit card.

Over the past few weeks, a man staying at beach hotels claiming to be Mark Tremonti, the lead guitarist of the rock band Creed, has handed out and autographed copies of publicity photos and attracted crowds of fans at beach bars.

Police said the man turned out to be a Kevin Eckenrod, a nomadic 40-year-old who has racked up more than 60 arrests in Florida over the last decade, many for scamming and swindling.

Eckenrod, who has more than 30 aliases, was being held Tuesday in the Pinellas County Jail on $20,000 bail on charges of fraudulent use of a credit card and scheming to defraud. The public defender's office had no immediate comment Tuesday.

Police arrested Eckenrod Sunday as he stood in the middle of a crowd signing autographs. Eckenrod does have a slight resemblance to Tremonti, though he is 11 years older than the guitarist.

"The crowd thought it was him," Clearwater Officer Chris Ziermann said. "I think they were kind of taken aback that he wasn't from Creed."

When police arrested Eckenrod, they say he told officers: "It's my hustle. I am a stone-cold alcoholic and it's my way of getting my drinks and a place to stay," a police report said.

He later told police: "This is getting old, but you have to admit I do look like the guy from Creed."

Clearwater officers first encountered him April 9 after an employee at the Adams Mark Hotel grew suspicious when Eckenrod persuaded a bartender to charge $160 in food and drink to a room.

He spent 13 days in jail before pleading no contest to defrauding an innkeeper and obstruction. He was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to repay the hotel.

The night of his release from jail, he was back on the beach signing autographs for a group gathered around him.

A woman who later invited him to her home told police Eckenrod took her credit card from her back pocket while he was kissing her. Sunday, she spotted Eckenrod at a restaurant and called police.

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