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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. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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