First there was the Eminem robber, now there's the Creed imposter. A Florida man was arrested in Clearwater on Sunday for fraud relating to his impersonation of Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti.
Despite being more than 11 years older than Tremonti, 40-year-old Kevin Eckenrod successfully posed as the Florida rocker for the past few weeks, staying in beach hotels as Tremonti, handing out autographed publicity photos and drawing up to 30 fans at a time while holding court at beach bars, according to a Clearwater Police Department spokesperson.
Eckenrod, who police said vaguely resembles Tremonti, is no stranger to the law, as he's been arrested more than 60 times in Florida over the past decade, often for swindling charges, and has lived under more than 30 aliases. After his arrest, Eckenrod told police, "It's my hustle. I am a stone-cold alcoholic and it's my way of getting my drinks and a place to stay." He also admitted, "This is getting old, but you have to admit I do look like the guy from Creed." Eckenrod is being held in Pinellas County Jail on $20,000 bail.
Eckenrod was first arrested on April 9 after a hotel employee became suspicious when, acting as Tremonti and surrounded by 30 "fans," he ordered more than $160 in drinks to a room in which he was not staying. At the time, he admitted he was not Tremonti and spent 13 days in jail after pleading no contest to charges of defrauding an innkeeper and obstruction. According to police, he returned to the beach on the night he was released and resumed the scam at a different hotel, the Hilton. There, again surrounded by a group of admirers, he signed photos that fans had downloaded from the Internet and held court at three different beach bars.
Among Eckenrod's alleged victims is an unidentified woman who met Eckenrod at one of those bars and who told police that, when invited to her home, the scam artist stole her credit card out of her back pocket while the two were kissing. Police said he later charged more than $1,000 in food, alcohol, clothing and a hotel room to the card.
After noticing her card was missing, the woman saw Eckenrod again on Sunday at the Britt's Grill restaurant — where he had again amassed a crowd of admirers — and called police, who booked the serial swindler on felony charges of fraudulent use of a credit card and scheming to defraud.
Police said Eckenrod has also claimed to be the son of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the past.