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Evidence supports felony inmate fraud conviction

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Finding that a defendant obtained a future interest in bail money as well as his release from prison – which constitute property under Indiana law – the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Elnesto Ray Valle’s Class C felony inmate fraud conviction. Valle convinced a stranger to pay his bail.

Valle was in jail in Grant County on a drug charge and shared a cell with his friend Edward Jay Brummett. Valle contacted his cousin and asked her to pretend to be related to Brummett in order to get money from Brummett’s inmate commissary account to be used to bail Valle out of jail. Valle forged forms, but the plot failed. Valle then tried reaching a friend, but dialed the wrong number and struck up a conversation with Peter Barrett. Valle eventually convinced Barrett, a complete stranger, to pay Valle’s bail with his credit card. He said he could pay Barrett back after being released.

The bail money was posted with the clerk of the court, and Barrett never received money back directly from Valle. He was also charged a $75 service fee for using his credit card.

Valle was charged with and convicted of various counts as a result of his schemes. He only challenged on appeal his inmate fraud conviction and aggregate 16-year sentence. Valle argued the state didn’t provide sufficient evidence to support the conviction under I.C. 35-43-5-20 because he did not obtain money or property from his misrepresentations.

In Elnesto Ray Valle v. State of Indiana, 27A02-1209-CR-772, the judges found Valle’s future interest in the bail money constitutes property for the purposes of inmate fraud. When he posted bail, Barrett agreed to a provision that said the funds will become the property of the defendant and returned to Valle.

“That the bail money, less the $75 service fee, was ultimately ordered returned to Peter is of no matter. Had Valle’s plan not been thwarted, he would have been entitled to the bail money if returned by the court,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.

The appeals court also agreed with the state that Valle obtained property in the form of his release from jail. It also upheld his sentence, pointing to his lengthy criminal history – both as a juvenile and as an adult. Valle also took advantage of Barrett, whom the court found was “mentally incapacitated.”

 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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