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State of Ohio v. David M. Estes

November 7, 2011

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DAVID M. ESTES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 08CR0149

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shaw, J.

Cite as

State v. Estes,

Judgment Affirmed

Case No. 13-11-14

OPINION

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, David M. Estes ("Estes"), appeals the March 31, 2011 judgment of the Seneca County Court of Common Pleas ordering him to pay: $2,725.00 in restitution to Fifth-Third Bank; $8,388.86 in restitution to GM Credit (aka HSBC Bank Nevada); and $2,093.61 in restitution to Chase Card Member Services.

{¶2} In October of 2007, Rebecca Rishty, Estes' ex-wife, noticed that someone had opened credit cards in her name when she received monthly billing statements for credit accounts that she did not authorize. One of the statements indicated a balance had been accrued of over $10,000.00. At that time, she recently had her mail forwarded to her mother's address. Before then, her mail was sent to the former marital home in Tiffin, Ohio, where Estes was residing. The billing statements of these credit cards indicated that the majority of the purchases were made in the Tiffin area. Based on their history together, Rishty suspected Estes' involvement in the opening of these credit card accounts in her name. Because Rishty was living abroad at the time, she asked her mother to notify law enforcement.

{¶3} Rishty and Estes were divorced in September of 2007. The record indicates that, as part of the divorce agreement, their home in Tiffin would remain in Rishty's name, however, Estes was permitted to live there rent-free for eighteen months in lieu of Rishty paying him spousal support. Estes moved into their Tiffin home prior to the divorce at the end of April of 2007. Rishty had not lived with Estes since January of 2006 because she worked and lived abroad in South Africa for extended periods of time. When Rishty returned to the country, she lived in Bethesda, Maryland.

{¶4} Lt. Det. Michelle Craig of the Tiffin Police Department received the initial call from Rishty's mother and began investigating the case. Det. Lt. Craig's investigation revealed that in June 2007, while he was living alone in their Tiffin home, Estes used Rishty's personal identifying information, without her consent or approval, to apply for two credit cards in Rishty's name--a GM Flex credit card and a Chase MasterCard. Once the new credit cards were approved, Estes used them to purchase property and services in the amount of $10,763.33 on the GM Flex credit card and $2,378.06 on the Chase MasterCard. Estes initially denied any involvement in fraudulently establishing these credit cards in Rishty's name.

{¶5} However, Lt. Det. Craig obtained surveillance video, depicting Estes making specific purchases documented on the credit card billing statements. In addition, one of the store clerks was able to identify Estes and recalled him making a particular purchase. Pursuant to a properly executed search warrant, Lt. Det. Craig also recovered several items purchased by Estes with the credit cards at issue, receipts and billing statements corresponding to the credit cards, as well as the actual credit cards fraudulently procured by Estes. These items included two bicycles, a PlayStation 3 video game console and video games, a computer and printer, a digital camera and other photography related items. All of these items were found in the former marital home where Estes continued to reside. Estes eventually admitted to Lt. Det. Craig that he opened the credit card accounts in Rishty's name because he ran out of money and needed basic necessities.

{¶6} Several months later, in January of 2008, Risthy's mother again contacted Lt. Det. Craig advising that Estes was "up to his old tricks." This time, Estes, without Rishty's consent or approval, drafted three courtesy checks connected to an existing line of credit Rishty had with Fifth-Third Bank. Estes named himself as payee, forged Rishty's signature and deposited the proceeds of the checks into his bank account. The record indicates that Estes obtained these checks while living in the former marital home. The checks were drafted in the amounts of $175.00, $2,000.00, and $550.00. Once confronted by law enforcement, Estes admitted to forging these checks, explaining that he ran out of money.

{¶7} On July 16, 2008, the Seneca County Grand Jury indicted Estes on Count One: identity fraud in violation of R.C. 2913.49(B)(1), (I)(2), a third degree felony; Count Two: misuse of credit cards in violation of R.C. 2913.21(B)(2), (D)(3), a fourth degree felony; Count Three: grand theft in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(3), (B)(2), a fourth degree felony; and Count Four: forgery in violation of R.C. 2913.31(A)(1), a fifth degree felony.

{ΒΆ8} On October 9, 2008, Estes entered pleas of guilty to all four counts in the indictment pursuant to a written plea agreement. The trial court found Estes guilty of ...


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