Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
DENNIS R. BOLZE
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs March 27, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Sevier County No. 8611 Steven
Wayne Sword, Judge, by Interchange
Petitioner, Dennis R. Bolze, appeals the dismissal of his
motion to vacate his state convictions, which the trial court
treated as a petition for post-conviction relief and
determined to be time-barred. After review, we affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
R. App. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court
R. Bolze, Coleman, Florida, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and James B.
Dunn, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Camille R. McMullen and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
E. GLENN, JUDGE.
2001, the Petitioner was indicted by the Sevier County Grand
Jury on sixteen counts of failure to file sales tax reports.
He was released on bond. His July 2, 2001 arraignment sheet
showed that he "[a]ppeared [without] counsel, but will
retain [c]ounsel, 15 days allowed[.]"
August 28, 2001, the Petitioner signed a waiver of jury trial
and entry of guilty plea. The waiver shows the Petitioner was
acting pro se. The plea provided that the Petitioner would be
sentenced to two years for each Class E felony conviction in
Counts 1 through 4, with one count served consecutively, for
an aggregate sentence of six years' probation. The
remaining counts were nolle prosequied. The trial court
accepted the plea and entered judgments, the top right of
each judgment form indicating that the Petitioner was pro se.
In August 2003, the Petitioner, then represented by counsel,
successfully moved for unsupervised probation.
serving his state probation, however, the Petitioner was
conducting a 21-million dollar Ponzi scheme between 2002 and
2008, "affecting over one hundred victims in the United
States and Europe and resulting in a multi-million dollar
loss to fraud victims." United States v. Bolze,
444 Fed.Appx. 889, 890 (6th Cir. 2012). Represented by
counsel, the Petitioner ultimately entered an open guilty
plea to three counts of wire fraud and three counts of money
laundering, and the district court imposed a prison sentence
of 327 months. Id. At his federal sentencing
hearing, the Petitioner raised multiple challenges to his
Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") but
significantly did not challenge the enhancement of his
sentence based on his prior criminal history. United
States v. Dennis R. Bolze, No. 3:09-CR-93, 2010 WL
2927418, at *2 n.5 (E.D. Tenn. July 23, 2010).
Petitioner took no action on his state court convictions
until July 31, 2017, when he filed the instant "Motion
To Vacate Judgment, Expunge Conviction And Seal Record"
in the Sevier County Circuit Court. In his motion, the
Petitioner claimed that during the hearing on August 28,
2001, which was for the purpose of requesting more time to
retain a lawyer or to have one appointed for him, the State
approached him and offered a six-year plea
agreement. The Petitioner said that he accepted the
plea without consulting with a lawyer concerning its
"disadvantages or consequences," and that the court
did not inquire into his lack of counsel or confirm that he
had agreed to waive his right to an attorney.
on these assertions, the Petitioner argued that the
structural error of the court's failing to make a proper
inquiry into his self-representation undermined his state
convictions. He, accordingly, asked that his state
convictions be vacated. He further requested that the court
"dismiss the case, expunge and seal the record in the
interest of justice" because "the passage of time,
faded memories, the loss of records and evidence, the where