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COA: Man knowingly pleaded guilty to fraud charge

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A post-conviction court correctly denied relief to a man on his felony fraud conviction after determining that his felony failure to register conviction should be vacated, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. Anthony McCullough pleaded guilty to the separate charges in one agreement.

McCullough, a former car dealer, faced charges of Class D felony conspiracy to commit fraud on a financial institution, Class C felony fraud on a financial institution, Class D felony theft and Class A misdemeanor check deception. The charges stemmed from giving false information on a loan application to purchase a car.

McCullough entered into a plea agreement in 2009 on the Class C felony fraud charge and an unrelated Class D felony failure to register as a sex offender charge under a separate cause number. The agreement capped his executed sentence at two years, and he was ordered to serve it on home detention.

After learning of the decision in Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371 (Ind. 2009), he sought post-conviction relief on both charges. He claimed his guilty pleas weren’t knowing, intelligent or voluntary due to ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney didn’t tell him about the Wallace holding. McCullough was later removed from the sex offender registry because he never should have been required to register. The post-conviction court only granted relief regarding the failure to register charge.  

McCullough didn’t argue that his counsel failed to inform him about a defense to fraud, and the evidence against him for this charge was great, the COA pointed out in Anthony McCullough v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1209-PC-719. McCullough also received a substantial benefit from his plea agreement, facing up to 20 years executed in the Department of Correction on the fraud charge alone.

The judges also pointed out the post-conviction court did not err by separating the charges, as the two charges arose out of two unrelated criminal acts with separate cause numbers.

 

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