Federal court affirms Handerhan's sentence
PHILADELPHIA - A federal appeals court has affirmed the 96-month prison sentence for former Mount Carmel police officer Blaine Handerhan.
In a judgment from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit released Tuesday, a three-judge panel affirmed Handerhan's sentence, which was handed down Aug. 21, 2012, after he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in federal court.
Handerhan, incarcerated at a federal prison at Fort Dix, N.J., applied on Aug. 23, 2013, for a motion to either vacate, set aside or correct the sentence, claiming he was ineffectively represented by counsel in preparation for trial.
In the 22-page petition for appeal, Handerhan cited several instances where he thought a jury would find him innocent and discussed a falling out with his first attorney, Matthew Gover.
"The time between our first meeting in October 2010 and our last meeting in October 2011, I noticed a drastic change in Gover's demeanor," Handerhan wrote. "Our attorney/client relationship became increasingly hostile with violent outbursts by Gover during our later meetings."
Handerhan said Gover withdrew from the case when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.
"It is unknown to me how many months prior to Attorney Gover's withdrawing from my case was I not represented," Handerhan wrote.
He claimed Gover had no intention of taking the case to trial. The former officer claimed Gover became extremely agitated with him when Handerhan refused to take a plea deal.
Handerhan said Gover stated, "I didn't take on this case thinking we were going to trial. I charge you with the idea I would get you a good plea deal, which I did. If you insist on going to trial, I will need an additional $5,000 to represent you." Gover was paid the additional fee, Handerhan said.
He also argued that counsel failed to file a motion to dismiss the Oct. 13, 2010, indictment, claiming it came five days prior to the statute of limitations on the crime running out and 56 months after he was arrested by police in Swatara Township. Following the arrest, Handerhan claimed to develop severe anxiety attacks, long bouts of depression and high blood pressure.
In his appeal, Handerhan said the search warrant was defective and illegally obtained due to false information and lack of evidence, and that he was questioned by police without being issued a Miranda warning.
The case was argued before circuit judges Marjorie O. Rendell, Kent A. Jordan and Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. on Sept. 11. Handerhan was represented by a new set for attorneys, Philip Gelso and Marissa McAndrew, of Kingston.