Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs May 15, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Wilson County Nos. 15-CR-1060,
15-CR-1061 Brody N. Kane, Judge
Defendant-Appellant, Nathaniel A. Rhodes, entered guilty
pleas to one count of TennCare fraud in case number
15-CR-1060 and to one count of sale of Alprazolam in case
number 15-CR-1061, with the trial court to determine the
range, length, and manner of service of his sentences
following a sentencing hearing. See Tenn. Code Ann.
§§ 71-5-2601(a)(5)(A), 39-17-417. Thereafter, the
trial court imposed two consecutive ten-year sentences in
confinement. On appeal, Rhodes argues that the trial court
imposed an excessive sentence. After reviewing the record in
this case, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but
remand the case for entry of corrected judgments as specified
in this opinion.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Court Affirmed and Remanded
A. Maynard, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant,
Nathaniel A. Rhodes.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia
S. Lee, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson,
Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason L. Lawson,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State
Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ.,
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE
August 20, 2015, Rhodes was indicted in case number
15-CR-1060 for three counts of TennCare fraud. The same day,
Rhodes was indicted in case number 15-CR-1061 for sale of
Alprazolam in Count 1, sale of Oxycodone in Count 2, and sale
of Alprazolam in Count 3. Thereafter, Rhodes retained trial
counsel to represent him.
19, 2017, Rhodes entered into a plea agreement and asked the
trial court to accept his guilty pleas to TennCare fraud in
Count 1 of 15-CR-1060 and to sale of Alprazolam in Count 1 of
15-CR-1061, with the trial court to determine the range,
length, and manner of service of his sentences following a
sentencing hearing. At the plea submission hearing the same
day, the State provided the following facts in support of
Rhodes' guilty pleas:
[Mr. Rhodes] went to the doctor and . . . because of the
issues . . . described by Mr. Rhodes, the doctor did
prescribe him [A]lprazolam.
Mr. Rhodes went and picked up that prescription. Tenn[C]are
did pay for the doctor office visit at which he obtained
the prescription for the [A]lprazolam. When he picked it up
he did pay for that with his own funds, however, the
Tenn[C]are fraud is based upon the office visit, Tenn[C]are
having to spend monies.
Mr. Rhodes went out a very short time after obtaining that
prescription and he did sell some of those pills to a
confidential informant [who] was working with the Wilson
County Sheriff's Department. The confidential informant
told the detectives that Mr. Rhodes had [A]lprazolam for
sale and that he could purchase [A]lprazolam from him.
The informant met with the detective and was searched
making sure that there were no drugs or money on his
person, then the informant was fitted with a video
recording device. The informant then left and went to a
location here in Wilson County, which was the Knight's
Inn at 941 Murfreesboro Road, I believe.
Once there he went in to Room 115 and at that time met with
Mr. Rhodes. There was a hand to hand exchange in which Mr.
Rhodes gave the informant the pills. The informant gave Mr.
Rhodes the money. Once that was completed the informant
left and went and met back with the detectives.
He turned the pills that he had purchased from Mr. Rhodes
over to the detectives. The detectives sent those pills to
the Crime Lab and they were confirmed to be [A]lprazolam,
and Mr. Rhodes was identified as the person who had made
conclusion of this hearing, Rhodes entered his guilty pleas
to TennCare fraud and to sale of Alprazolam. Pursuant to
Rhodes' plea agreement, the remaining counts in case
numbers 15-CR-1060 and 15-CR-1061 were dismissed.
28, 2018, following a sentencing hearing, the trial court
sentenced Rhodes as a Range III, persistent offender to two
consecutive ten-year sentences in confinement for these
convictions. The judgment forms for these two convictions
show a "Date of Entry of Judgment" of July 28, 2017
but also reflect that they were not filed in the clerk's
office until August 1, 2017.
August 22, 2017, trial counsel filed a notice of appeal on
Rhodes' behalf in the trial court seeking relief from the
sentences entered in case numbers 15-CR-1060 and 15-CR-1061.
On August 29, 2017, the trial court clerk's office sent a
letter to trial counsel informing him that the notice of
appeal must be filed in the appellate court and that the
clerk's office was returning his original notice of
appeal. The record does not show that trial counsel ever
filed the notice of appeal with this court, and it does not
provide an explanation as to why trial counsel failed to do
September 5, 2017, a corrected judgment, which reflected the
correct felony classification for the TennCare fraud
conviction, was entered. Although this corrected judgment was
not filed in the clerk's office until September 5, 2017,
the "Date of Entry of Judgment" was listed on the
judgment form as "08-24-17 nunc pro tunc for
January 19, 2018, Rhodes filed a pro se notice of appeal,
stating that he was filing "[t]his delayed notice"
of appeal due to trial counsel's "gross
incompetence" in filing the initial notice of appeal in
the trial court rather than in the appellate court. In this
pro se notice of appeal, Rhodes attached a copy of the
initial notice of appeal filed by trial counsel in the trial
Rhodes filed a motion to be declared indigent and to receive
the appointment of counsel. On April 6, 2018, this court
remanded this motion to the trial court. Rhodes was
subsequently declared indigent and appointed appellate
Untimely Filed ...