Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
27, 2018 Session
from the Circuit Court for Campbell County No. 17253 Paul G.
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.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
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.
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
Factual and Procedural History
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.
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
The offenses described in [C]ounts 1 through 6 above were
committed in Campbell County, Tennessee.
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."
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.
Albright spoke on behalf of the Estate of Melissa Ann
Albright, her sister. Ms. Tammy Albright 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
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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[.]"
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