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Valentine v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

February 23, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs January 10, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Sumner County No. 298-2014 Dee David Gay, Judge

         Gregory D. Valentine, Sr., ("the Petitioner") entered a "best interest" plea to twenty counts of identity theft, six counts of criminal simulation, and one count each of forgery, theft of property valued between $10, 000 and $60, 000, and money laundering. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of twelve years and eight months; he was ordered to serve thirty-two months with a seventy-five percent release eligibility in the county jail and ten years with a thirty percent release eligibility on probation. The Petitioner filed three pro se motions to set aside his guilty pleas, which the trial court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the motions to set aside the Petitioner's guilty pleas. On remand, the trial court denied the Petitioner's motions. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the trial court's denial. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed the denial, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. After this court remanded this case, the Petitioner filed a motion to recuse, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on the Petitioner's petition for post-conviction relief and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying post-conviction relief and by denying his motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Jordan M. Sluder, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gregory D. Valentine, Sr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Thomas Dean, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.



         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Guilty Plea Submission Hearing

         During the plea colloquy, the State summarized the facts supporting the Petitioner's best interest plea as the following:

The facts stem from events on the 30th of September, 2009[, ] in Hendersonville, Tennessee. At that time, one of the Bank of America branches called Hendersonville Police Department, said they had in the bank at that moment a member of a fraud ring who had perpetrated identity theft. She was in the bank at that time. Ultimately, they reported that she was leaving the bank and fleeing the premises.
Hendersonville Police Department Officers were actually driving by the bank at that time; they saw the woman fleeing the bank. Then they heard the call almost immediately. They turned around; they saw the woman get into a van containing, counting her, six individuals. It was a rental van out of California.
The police began an investigation at that time to determine who she was. She said she was Gail Shapiro, which is the name on the identification that she had presented to the Bank of America. The other defendants, all the others in the van, supported that story that they had just picked her up. They didn't know her.
. . .
What we have is on the 30th, Maurice Reed went into a bank in Hendersonville at about 9:30 in the morning, started an account under the name of Greg Shapiro. He then went to the Madison branch at about 10:30, 10:15 . . .; Bank of America made a transfer from the real Greg Shapiro's account to the bogus Greg Shapiro account he had just created, transferred $16, 000, [and] withdrew $7, 500. Then [he returned to] the van, and he went back to Hendersonville later that day. They withdrew another $7, 500 from a different branch of Bank of America.
And then around 2:00 in the afternoon, with all six individuals in the van, Yolanda Carter went into the Bank of America, attempted to start an account under the name of Gail Shapiro. The bank got wise [and] called Hendersonville. . . .
Based on that information and the numerous false identifications that were . . . later found in the van, and the many scraps of paper in the van with bank account holder's names, social security numbers, account number[s], date of birth, sometimes mother's maiden name[, ] that sort of information that led to the charges before the Court.
[The Petitioner was charged with] [c]riminal [s]imulation for the fake [identifications, ] [i]dentity [t]heft for the information on the many pieces of paper regarding the individual account holders[, ] [f]alse [r]eport for saying that the defendant who was later determined to be Yolanda Carter was Gail Shapiro[, ] [t]heft over $10, 000 relating to the $15, 000 that was removed from Greg Shapiro's bank account[, ] [f]orgery for Maurice Reed signing the name of Gregory Shapiro on the bank documentation to open the false bank account that morning in Hendersonville, and identity theft for his use of Greg Shapiro's name at that time, and one [i]dentity [t]heft count for Yolanda Carter using Gail Shapiro's name . . . .
There is a money laundering charge that is Money Laundering by Promotion of a Criminal Enterprise by Reinvesting Criminal Proceeds . . . under [Code section 39-14-]903(b) of the money laundering [statute]. That is for the deposit of $100 that went in to start the bogus account on that morning in the name of Greg Shapiro. . . .
[The Petitioner] according to the State's information is the leader of this enterprise, at least the highest ranking person of the enterprise that was in the van; therefore, we have made a different offer to him than to the others.

         The trial court informed the Petitioner that a best interest plea "has the same effect as a guilty plea or a guilty verdict by a jury." The Petitioner stated that he had graduated high school and he affirmed that he had signed the plea agreement. The Petitioner also agreed that trial counsel had discussed the plea agreement and the elements of the charged offenses with him and that he understood the plea agreement. He stated that he was satisfied with trial counsel's representation. The trial court informed the Petitioner of his right to plead not guilty and proceed to trial, to subpoena witnesses in his defense, to cross-examine the State's witnesses, to testify or not testify at trial, to be represented by an attorney, and to appeal. The trial court accepted the Petitioner's best interest guilty plea and imposed the sentence set out in the plea agreement. The trial court entered the judgments for the Petitioner's convictions on October 14, 2010.

         Motions to Set Aside Guilty Pleas

         The Petitioner thereafter filed three pro se motions to set aside his guilty pleas on October 19-21, 2010. The trial court summarily denied the Petitioner's motions, and the Petitioner appealed. On appeal, this court reversed and remanded for the trial court to conduct a hearing on the motions, concluding that "[the Petitioner]'s allegations are sufficient to warrant an evidentiary hearing on his motion to withdraw the guilty pleas." State v. Gregory Darnell Valentine (Valentine I), No. M2010-02356-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3263117, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 10, 2012), no perm. app. filed.

         Hearing on Motions to Set Aside Guilty Pleas

         On September 28, 2012, the trial court conducted a hearing on the Petitioner's motions to set aside his guilty pleas. The trial court found that the transcript of the guilty plea submission hearing reflected that the Petitioner "made no complaints about his pleas" and that "[the Petitioner's] plea[s] w[ere] voluntary and knowing, and in his transcript he had no complaints against the attorney." State v. Gregory D. Valentine (Valentine II), No. ...

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