MANHERTZ v. STATE
734 S.E.2d 406 (2012)
317 Ga. App. 856
Nos. A12A1260, A12A1558.
Court of Appeals of Georgia.
October 9, 2012.
Following a jury trial, Kirk Manhertz and his co-defendant, Nicole Joyner, were both convicted on twelve counts of identity fraud. Manhertz was also convicted on one count of giving a false name to a law-enforcement officer and one count of driving without a license. On appeal of their convictions, Manhertz contends that the trial court erred in denying his claim that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance, and Joyner contends that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. Because the charges arose from the same incident and the defendants were tried together, we have consolidated their separate appeals for review. And for the reasons set forth infra, we affirm in both cases.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's guilty verdicts,1 the record shows that on March 27, 2008, a Henry County police officer on traffic patrol observed a black Lexus
with New York license tags and noticed that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. Consequently, the officer initiated a traffic stop and, after approaching the vehicle, asked the driver to produce his driver's license. The driver responded that he did not have his driver's license but that his name was Glenroy Hardie. However, when a computer check on that name turned up no information, and the driver appeared nervous, the officer asked the driver to exit the vehicle. The officer then asked if he could search the vehicle, and the driver consented. During his search, the officer found an identification card with a photograph of the driver. The card indicated that the driver's name was Kirk Manhertz and that he resided at 363 Interlake Place, McDonough, Georgia, which is in Henry County. In addition, the officer found several credit cards in the vehicle, all of which bore names different from either Manhertz or Hardie.
Based on the search of Manhertz's vehicle, the police suspected that he was involved in an identity-fraud scheme and, thus, police arrested him and obtained a warrant to search the McDonough address listed on Manhertz's identification card. During the search of that residence, the police found a ledger, which had the name "Kane" on the front and which contained people's names and other identifying information such as social-security and driver's-license numbers. The police also found copies of numerous checks, all of which were made payable to the Point at Perimeter apartment complex in DeKalb County, and papers that contained the names, social-security numbers, and driver's-license numbers of the individuals identified on the checks. Additionally, the police found a New York identification card for Manhertz and more credit cards.
Approximately two months later, an investigator with the Henry County District Attorney's office began attempting to track down the apparent victims of Manhertz's identity-fraud scheme. Consequently, the investigator met with a regional supervisor for the company that owned the Point at Perimeter apartment complex and the complex's property manager at another apartment complex owned by the company to determine if they knew the people whose copied checks were found at Manhertz's residence or if they recognized the handwriting on the list of names and identifying information. The property manager confirmed that the copied checks were those of current and former tenants, and he recognized the handwriting on the list of names and identifying information as that of his assistant, Nicole Joyner. Based on this conversation, the investigator asked to speak with Joyner, so the property manager went to the Point at Perimeter complex where Joyner was currently working and brought her back to the sister property for questioning.
As the recorded interview began, the investigator told Joyner that he was investigating an identity-fraud scheme involving some of the apartment complex's tenants. The investigator then asked Joyner if she recognized the name Manhertz or a photograph of him, but she replied that neither was familiar. When confronted with the handwritten list of tenants' identifying information, Joyner admitted that the handwriting was hers, but she initially denied compiling the information for any nefarious purpose. Eventually, however, Joyner confessed that she provided the copied checks and tenants' identifying information to someone after being promised cash in exchange for same.
Specifically, Joyner explained that she met a dancer at a strip club, who went by the stage name Paradise. After a brief conversation, Paradise asked Joyner how she was employed, and Joyner informed her that she worked as an assistant manager at an apartment complex. Paradise responded by informing Joyner that she had a friend named Kane, who would pay $1,000 for tenants' names, social-security numbers, driver's-license numbers, and copies of signed checks. Joyner agreed to do so and later provided Paradise with the requested information. However, Joyner asserted that she was never paid any money. And although Joyner claimed that she went back to the strip club on one or two occasions in an attempt to collect the promised payment, she was unable to find Paradise — no doubt finding little comfort in the axiom that "solitude some-times
is best society."2 Other than her physical description and place of employment, the only information about Paradise that Joyner could provide to the investigator was that she drove a black Lexus with New York license plates.