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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues