Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Hatmaker

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 8, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
WESLEY LYNN HATMAKER

          March 27, 2018 Session

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Campbell County No. 17253 Paul G. Summers, Judge

         Wesley Lynn Hatmaker ("the Defendant") pled guilty to two counts of theft of property valued between $10, 000 and $60, 000 (Counts 1 and 6) and four counts of theft of property valued between $60, 000 and $250, 000 (Counts 2, 3, 4, and 5). The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of three years and six months for Counts 1 and 6, and concurrent sentences of ten years and six months for Counts 2, 3, 4, and 5, with Counts 1 and 2 to be served consecutively and all others concurrently, for an effective sentence of fourteen years in the Department of Correction with a release eligibility of thirty percent. The Defendant asserts that the trial court improperly applied sentencing factors, improperly imposed consecutive sentences, and improperly denied alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Stephen Ross Johnson and Tyler M. Caviness, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wesley Lynn Hatmaker.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Jared R. Effler, District Attorney General; and Thomas E. Barclay and Courtney Stanifer, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         On May 11, 2017, the Defendant pled guilty to two counts of theft of property valued between $10, 000 and $60, 000, and four counts of theft of property valued between $60, 000 and $250, 000. As a part of the open plea, the State dismissed Count 7 of the indictment and the trial court determined the length and manner of service of the sentence.

         At the guilty plea hearing, the Defendant stipulated to the State's recitation of the following facts:

As to Count 1[, ] . . . [o]n April 8, 2009[, ] proceeds from the sale of real property sold in the Lois M. Faile estate were transferred to [the Defendant] with a check in the amount of $20, 731.82 payable to the "Estate of Lois Faile-[the Defendant], Atty." The estate was never settled and the monies were never paid out. [The Defendant] took the money for his personal use. . . . [The Defendant] concealed the crime from the date of the commission of the offense until December 2015, by deception and misrepresentation in that he repeatedly lied to Kelly Ray, a representative of the estate, by telling her information about the status of a Chancery Court case that he knew to be false, and thereby prevented the representative of the estate from discovering the offense, and therefore tolled the [s]tatute of [l]imitations pursuant to [Tennessee Code Annotated section] 40-2-103.
As to Count 2[, ] . . . [o]n October 10, 2009, [the Defendant] was given a check for $163, 000 to settle the Estate of Ray Odom Baker. He took the money for his personal use. He repaid the money more than two years later by depositing $163, 000 with the clerk of the court on December 12, 2011. The money should have been paid by the estate to the State of Tennessee Bureau of TennCare to release a lien against the estate.
As to Count 3[, ] . . . Melissa Ann Albright died February 13, 2014. A check from Allstate [Insurance] was payable to Melissa Ann Albright in the amount of $30, 000. Mary Jane Partin, the decedent's mother and heir to her daughter's estate, took the check to [the Defendant] and asked him to handle the estate. He took the check and agreed to handle the estate. In June 2014, Mary Jane Partin received another check for Melissa Ann Albright in the amount of $72, 361.77. Mary Jane Partin took the check to [the Defendant] and told him she desired to use her inheritance from the estate to establish a trust for her granddaughter and the decedent's niece, Shelby Jane Davis. [The Defendant] deposited both checks in his trust account and used the money for his personal use.
As to Count 4[, ] . . . [i]n February 2015[, the Defendant] was appointed Administrator ad [l]item for the estate of William Blankenship. On March 18, 2015, he received a check from the law firm of Arnett, Draper, and Haygood to settle an insurance claim. The check was made out to "Estate of William Wadsworth Blankenship, [the Defendant, ] Administrator" in the amount of $89, 438.22. He deposited the check in his trust account and used the money for his personal use. In November 2015[, ] he wrote checks from his trust account to heirs of the estate totaling $30, 000, but the remaining money was never paid out.
As to Count 5[, ] . . . [the Defendant] was hired to close the estate of Mac Arthur Coffey and establish a trust for the benefit of Sidney Coffey. On April 23, 2014, [the Defendant] met with Jenny Ann Daniel and removed $63, 363 in cash from a safe deposit box. He took the money and made a deposit to his trust account. On October 29, 2014, Jenny Ann Daniel met with [the Defendant] at Peoples Bank of the South. They closed a checking account belonging to Mac Arthur Coffey[, ] and a check was written payable to the Estate of Mac Arthur Coffey for $13, 652.77. Jenny Ann Daniel endorsed the check and turned it over to [the Defendant]. He deposited the check into his personal checking account the same day. Between August 2014 and October 2015, [the Defendant] paid out $6, 702 to Sidney Coffey and made $1, 863.70 in various payments regarding the Estate of Mac Arthur Coffey. [The Defendant] used the remainder of the money for his personal use.
As to Count 6[, ] . . . Jeff Anderson hired [the Defendant] to represent him in a pending criminal case involving Jeff Anderson's wife, Amy Anderson. Jeff Anderson had a separate but related domestic case also involving Amy Anderson in which Jeff Anderson was represented by different counsel. On November 17, 2015, Jeff Anderson got a cashier's check from his bank in the amount of $40, 000 and gave the check to his criminal defense counsel, [the Defendant]. The same day, [the Defendant] deposited $30, 000 to his trust account and $10, 000 to his personal account. The money was never paid to Jeff Anderson or Amy Anderson. About a week later, [the Defendant] wrote checks from his trust account totaling $30, 000 to make a partial repayment to the victims in the Estate of William Blankenship as described in [Count] four (4) above.
At all times described herein, [the Defendant] was an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee, that he was acting in that capacity when he received money from and/or on behalf of his clients who are the victims identified in [C]ounts 1 through 6 of the [i]ndictment.
[The Defendant] admitted his unlawful conduct before the Board of Professional Responsibility, and he has been disbarred as of October 3, 2016, by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
The offenses described in [C]ounts 1 through 6 above were committed in Campbell County, Tennessee.

         The State did not file notice of any enhancement factors prior to the June 27, 2017 sentencing hearing. However, at the sentencing hearing, several victims provided impact statements. The State read into the record a letter from Kelly Ray, a representative of the Estate of Lois Faile. Ms. Ray stated she was humiliated and embarrassed and that the Defendant "preyed on the weak." She stated, "Unfortunately, I cannot change the past, but the [c]ourt can rectify the past by issuing a sentence that involves prison time."

         Next, the trial court noted that Jack and Inez Bridges were present for the hearing on behalf of the Estate of Odom Ray Baker. Both Mr. and Ms. Bridges declined to make a statement. The State told the court that the Defendant's theft from the Baker estate totaled $163, 000 but that he did pay the money back to the estate two years later.

         Tammy Albright spoke on behalf of the Estate of Melissa Ann Albright, her sister. Ms. Tammy Albright[1] stated that her sister passed away from cancer and planned to leave her life savings of $102, 361.77 to Ms. Tammy Albright's daughter, who was Ms. Melissa Ann Albright's niece. Ms. Tammy Albright testified that her mother had a nervous breakdown because she blamed herself for losing her sister's life savings to the Defendant. She stated that her daughter had planned to use the money to further her education. Ms. Tammy Albright had no sentencing recommendations to the court, saying, "I feel like no matter what you do to [the Defendant], he's never gonna [sic] feel sorry for anybody but himself."

         The State called Carl Blankenship to speak on behalf of the Estate of William Blankenship. Mr. Blankenship stated that he lost his parents and their home because the Defendant "stole [his] money" and then "tried to charge [him] $5, 000 for robbing [him]." He testified that his sister has five children and could have used the money "more than anybody." The State told the trial court that the gross amount the Defendant stole from the Blankenship estate was almost $90, 000. Mr. Blankenship asked the court to send the Defendant to prison.

         Steve Hurst gave a statement to the trial court as the attorney for Sidney Coffey. When Ms. Coffey's grandparents passed away, Ms. Coffey's aunt mishandled their estate. Mr. Hurst helped Ms. Coffey by taking over her financial affairs, and he arranged with her grandparents' estate to pay funds to Ms. Coffey on a periodic basis to help her with her education. It was then that Mr. Hurst discovered that the Defendant had been stealing from the estate. The State told the trial court that the gross amount the Defendant stole from the Coffey estate was over $77, 000. Mr. Hurst asked the trial court to give the Defendant probation so that he could continue to repay Ms. Coffey because "she needs the money more than she needs . . . retribution."

         Jeff Anderson was not present for the hearing, but the State informed the trial court that the gross amount the Defendant stole from Mr. Anderson was approximately $40, 000.

         The State called Chancellor Elizabeth Asbury, the chancery court judge who presided over the Blankenship estate. When Chancellor Asbury received the TennCare releases from the Blankenship estate in October 2015, she instructed the Defendant to pay the money into the Registry of the Court within two business days. When the deadline came, the Defendant confessed to Chancellor Asbury that he did not have the money.

         The Defendant made an unsworn allocution statement requesting probation so that he could continue to make restitution to his victims and to care for his family.

         The trial court found that the Defendant was a Range I, standard offender with several applicable enhancement factors. First, the trial court found that the Defendant had a history of criminal behavior spanning several years, beginning in April 2009. The trial court applied this factor to Counts 2 through 6. The trial court said the Defendant "relentlessly stole large amounts of money from at least six clients . . . for his own personal use and benefit . . . and sought to hide his criminal activities until he could no longer maintain the illusion of his integrity." The trial court placed a significant amount of weight on this factor.

         Next, the trial court found that the offenses involved more than one victim because there were "additional victims beyond those named in the indictment [that] were affected by the actions of the [D]efendant" in the Counts involving estate clients. The trial court placed a significant amount of weight on this factor. The trial court found that, in Counts 2 and 5, a victim of the Defendant's offenses was particularly vulnerable because of age or disability. The trial court placed "some but not a tremendous amount of weight on this factor."

         Finally, the trial court found that the Defendant "abused a position of public or private trust as a lawyer" and "utilized his professional license to facilitate his offenses." The trial court placed "great weight on this factor as to all [C]ounts[.]"

         When considering mitigating factors, the trial court found that the Defendant's actions "neither caused nor threatened serious bodily injury" but placed little weight on this factor "because theft usually doesn't involve any injury." The trial court also found the Defendant's payment of $50, 000 to the Campbell County ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.