SUNBURY - More than 10 years after he was first charged, a former Northumberland County correctional officer is one step closer to spending time in state prison.

Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest granted a "motion to commence sentence" sought by the state in the case of Kasimir Craig "KC" Grohowski, 42, of Mount Carmel. The Aug. 1 order included instructions for Grohowski to report to the county sheriff's department within 45 days to be transported to SCI-Camp Hill, where inmates are processed before being assigned to a prison to begin their sentences.

But Wiest's order also notes that should the defendant file a post conviction relief petition, the court will reconsider its motion.

Grohowski and his attorney, Edward E. Kopko, could not be reached for comment Thursday, but based on past interviews, filing of the petition is expected.

One of 8 charged

Grohowski's legal saga began April 14, 2004, when he and seven other current or former prison guards were charged in connection with a two-year grand jury investigation into offenses allegedly committed between 2000 and 2002 at the prison.

Charges against one of the other guards were eventually withdrawn. Another guard was acquitted of drug charges during a 2005 trial and allowed to return to work at the prison. The other four guards entered guilty pleas and received various sentences, but avoided spending time in prison. Grohowski would be the first from the group to spend any time behind bars.

In September 2006, Grohowski was convicted by a jury of three counts three counts of delivery of contraband - cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana - to an inmate at the jail. He was acquitted of aggravated assault against an inmate.

In August 2007, then-President Judge Robert B. Sacavage granted Grohowski a new trial, citing a need for "extraordinary relief." Among the key issues was that Grohowski's attorney, Richard Feudale, didn't object to Senior Deputy Attorney General David Gorman, in his closing argument, asking the jury to consider sending a "message" by finding Grohowski guilty. Sacavage said Grohowski's case was prejudiced by that remark.

He also said physical evidence supporting the guilty verdict was insufficient and that the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence presented in the testimony of three inmates. He said that testimony amounted "to little more than vague assertions that they had received drugs from the defendant."

Gorman said the "message" statement had no bearing on the jury's verdict, and he defended Feudale by pointing out that he filed pre-trial motions in the case and attacked the credibility of witnesses, including inmates.

Gorman appealed Sacavage's ruling to the Superior Court, which in summer 2009 ruled in a 3-2 decision that extraordinary relief was not justified because the appeals process shouldn't occur until after sentencing.

With Sacavage's ruling for a new trial overturned, the case proceeded to sentencing based on the original conviction. In October 2009, Sacavage sentenced Grohowski to two to four years.

Kopko again began the appeal process. He filed post-sentence motions requesting acquittal or a new trial, and arguments were heard by Sacavage. The judge later acquitted Grohowski due to what he ruled was ineffective counsel and the "message" remark by Gorman.

But Gorman appealed again. The Superior Court on May 22 of last year vacated the acquittal ruling. It said Sacavage's ruling on post-sentence motions, made June 23, 2011, came after the 120 days allotted for post-sentence motions, which were made by Kopko on Jan. 26. It made the motions legally null, the court said.

The Superior Court ruling was appealed by Kopko, but when the Supreme Court upheld it a Dec. 3 ruling, Gorman took action to initiate the sentencing.

Grohowski said in February he was "shocked" to learn of the turn of events, believing since his 2011 acquittal that he was a free man. Kopko said at the time he planned to ask for more time to respond to the motion.

Wiest's one-page order of Aug. 1 doesn't provide any information as to what has transpired since February, but the clock appears to once again be ticking toward Grohowski heading to prison.