Counterfeit • Sentencing • Ineffectiveness of Counsel

U.S. v. Kenneth Hampton, PICS Case No. 14-0215 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 28, 2014) Surrick, J. (17 pages).

Defendant Kenneth Hampton motioned to vacate, set aside or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. §2255. The court denied the motion.

On February 25, 2009, special agents of the United States Secret Service executed a search warrant for property and identified counterfeit United States currency as well as materials to produce counterfeit currency. The agent further discovered bank statements and insurance cards in the name of Hampton along with several additional identifying documents/photographs bearing Hampton’s name. In the same briefcase as the identifying documents, agents discovered a number of counterfeit Federal Reserve notes in various stages of completion.

During the course of the search, Hampton returned to the residence and was arrested; in his possession was a key to the residence. Hampton, along with three others, was indicted as part of a conspiracy to manufacture and possess counterfeit currency. Hampton entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to make and deal in counterfeit currency and manufacturing counterfeit obligations. During the plea colloquy, Hampton’s counsel argued the sentencing guidelines called for a range between 16-36 months. Hampton was advised during the colloquy and in the written plea agreement, that a guilty plea subjected him to a statutory maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

Following a pre-sentence investigation report, the court sentenced Hampton to 84 months in prison along with an additional 12 month consecutive sentence for his subsequent guilty plea for parole violation. Hampton appealed the sentence arguing ineffective assistance of counsel, fraudulent misrepresentation and naiveté of the sentencing guidelines. The Third Circuit rejected Hampton’s argument and Hampton filed the instant pro se motion to vacate/set aside/correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. §2255.

The court denied Hampton’s motion reasoning the effectiveness of counsel was irrelevant where the written plea agreement and in-court guilty plea colloquy clearly established Hampton’s maximum potential expose and the sentencing court’s discretion. The court further rejected Hampton’s argument that his guilty plea was based on a promise of a lighter sentence and did not support a claim for ineffective counsel, particularly given the possible sentence was spelled out in the written plea agreement. The court denied Hampton’s motion to vacate/set aside/correct sentence.