Handerhand asks court to set side prison sentence
HARRISBURG - Former Mount Carmel Borough Police Lieutenant Blaine Handerhan has once again asked a federal court to set aside his prison sentence on a child pornography charge.
Handerhan, incarcerated in a federal prison at Fort Dix, N.J., filed the appeal back in February, but filed documents on April 14 to proceed with the appeal without prepaying any fees or costs.
The former officer was sentenced in August 2012 to 96 months in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of possession of child pornography in federal court.
In August 2013, Handerhan made 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.
Handerhan later 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.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania affirmed Handerhan's sentence on Jan. 9, prompting him to refile the appeal on Feb. 12.
In the new filing, Handerhan again raises the question that counsel was ineffective.
The financial filing to proceed with the action without prepaying shows Handerhan receives a monthly pension payment of $3,582.49. An investigation by Mount Carmel Borough Council president Tony Matulewicz in June showed that Handerhan's gross pay had been "spiked" three years before his retirement, increasing his gross pay by over $36,000.
The money was subtracted as a deduction on each paycheck and he never received it, but it helped to increase his pension benefits, which were based on the gross pay received over the last three years.
Such practices left Mount Carmel Borough's pension funds for the police department and non-uniformed employees underfunded by about $1 million in 2013.
Other assets that Handerhan listed on the financial disclosure form was co-ownership of a home on South Oak Street, Mount Carmel, life insurance stock and a 1984 Chevrolet Citation automobile, the assets totaling $14,000.
After paying $150 a month for utilities and insurance on the Mount Carmel home and a $150 a month life insurance payment, the balance of the pension payment goes to support his wife, Joan, and their two 12-year-old children.
The only debt listed in the disclosure form is $74,700 in restitution owed to the United States in fines and court costs.
On April 9, the court ordered the U.S. Government to file an answer to Handerhan's motion for appeal, after which he will have 14 days to file a reply.