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United States v. Hampton

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 28, 2014

KENNETH HAMPTON Criminal No. 09-193



Presently before the Court is Defendant Kenneth Hampton’s pro se Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 114). For the following reasons, the Motion will be denied.


On February 25, 2009, special agents of the United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant for 5750 Spruce Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Guilty Plea Mem., ECF No. 59.) Inside the property, agents identified counterfeit United States currency as well as materials that were being used to produce counterfeit currency. (Id. at 8-9.) In an upstairs bedroom, agents discovered bank statements and insurance cards in the name of Defendant, Kenneth Hampton. (Id. at 8.) In the same room, agents discovered a briefcase containing two certificates of birth identifying Kenneth Hampton as the father, a certificate of birth for Kenneth Hampton, two copies of a social security card issued to Kenneth Hampton, and multiple photographic identifications for Kenneth Hampton. (Id. at 8-9.) Located in the same briefcase were a number of counterfeit Federal Reserve notes in various stages of completion. (Id. at 8.) The resident of the property, Peree Hampton, informed agents that he was aware that counterfeit currency was being manufactured in his home and that he participated in the operation with his uncle, Kenneth Hampton. (Id. at 9.)

During the course of the search, Defendant approached the residence and looked into a window. (Id. at 9.) When confronted by agents, Defendant claimed that he had approached to tell them that the lights of a vehicle parked in the street were on. (Id.) Defendant was subsequently arrested and found to be in possession of a key to 5750 Spruce Street. (Id.)

On March 26, 2009, Defendant was one of three individuals indicted as part of a conspiracy to manufacture and possess counterfeit currency. (Indictment, ECF No. 15.) Defendant entered into a written plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office on October 5, 2009. (Guilty Plea Agreement, ECF No. 62.) Under the terms of the agreement, Defendant entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to make and deal in counterfeit currency (Count I), and manufacturing counterfeit obligations (Count II). (Id. at ¶ 1.)

On October 26, 2009, a change of plea hearing was held. (Min. Entry, ECF No. 61.) During the course of the plea colloquy, defense counsel suggested that the Sentencing Guidelines called for a range between sixteen and thirty-six months. (Oct. 26, 2009 Hr’g Tr. 18, ECF No. 85.) The Government responded that defense counsel’s calculations were as close as any that it could come up with in advance of the presentence report. (Id. at 20.) We expressed surprise that the Sentencing Guidelines did not call for a higher sentencing range given Defendant’s prior convictions. (Id. at 20-21.) We noted, however, that this Court would make an actual determination as to what the Sentencing Guidelines provided based upon the information available at the time of sentencing. (Id.) In addition, Defendant was advised during the guilty plea colloquy, and in the written plea agreement, that the guilty plea subjected him to a statutory maximum prison sentence of twenty-five years. (Id. at 8; Guilty Plea Agreement ¶ 6.) Defendant also acknowledged in the plea agreement, and during the colloquy, that no one had promised or guaranteed what sentence this Court would impose. (Guilty Plea Agreement ¶ 12; Oct. 26 Hr’g Tr. 16, 20-21.) Following the colloquy, we accepted Defendant’s plea and ordered a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report. (Oct. 26 Hr’g Tr. 25.)

On March 24, 2010, a sentencing hearing was held. During the hearing we adopted the factual matter contained in the Pre-Sentence Report. (Mar. 24, 2010 Hr’g Tr. 4, ECF No. 87.) Both parties agreed with the calculation of the Guideline range of 51-63 months in the Pre-Sentence Report. (Id. at 3-4.) After considering all of the relevant circumstances, we granted the Government’s motion for an upward variance and sentenced Defendant to a prison term of eighty-four months. (Id. at 15-16.) On March 30, 2010, Defendant appealed his sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. (ECF No. 80.)

Defendant’s guilty plea resulted in the violation of his supervised release from a 2005 counterfeiting conviction. On November 18, 2010, a violation hearing was held and Defendant stipulated to a violation of the terms of his supervised release. (Violation Hr’g Tr. 76, Gov’t’s Resp. Ex. A, ECF No. 124.) A twelve-month sentence was imposed to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for the underlying crimes. (Id. at 83.) Defendant filed a timely appeal. By order of January 14, 2011, the Third Circuit consolidated Defendant’s appeals. United States v. Hampton, No. 10-1915 (3d Cir. 2011)

On appeal, Defendant argued ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney “simply had no grasp on what the Guidelines were” and “affirmatively lead the Defendant to believe something that simply was not true.” (Def.’s Appellate Br. 12, Gov’t’s Resp. Ex. B.)

Defendant further argued that he was given “no meaningful idea of where he would fit in” to the Sentencing Guidelines (Id. at 20), and that “he would have gone to trial and would not have pled guilty if he had only known the Guidelines . . . .” (Id. at 15). Defendant argued that his plea was not entered “knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily.” (Id. at 20.) The Third Circuit considered and rejected these arguments in an opinion filed on September 13, 2011. United States v. Hampton, 444 F. App’x 583, 585 (3d Cir. 2011).

On October 13, 2011, the Third Circuit granted Defendant’s pro se motion for an extension of time to file a petition for rehearing. Hampton, No. 10-1915. On December 12, 2011, defense counsel filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. United States v. Hampton, No. 11-7808 (2011). This petition was denied on January 17, 2012. (Id.) On January 27, 2012, Defendant filed a pro se motion with the Third Circuit requesting leave to file a petition for rehearing out-of-time. Hampton, No. 10-1915. The petition was granted on February 7, 2012, however the Court subsequently denied Defendant’s motion on February 23, 2012. (Id.)

On February 14, 2013, Defendant filed the instant pro se Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. §2255. (Def.’s Mot., ECF No. 114; Def.’s Mem., ECF No. 115.)[1] On September 6, 2013, the Government filed a Response in opposition. (Gov’t’s Resp.). On October 25, 2013, Defendant filed a Reply. (Def.’s Reply, ECF No. 128.)


Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal prisoner may move the sentencing court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

Relief under this provision is generally available “to protect against a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice or an omission inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure.” United States v. DeLuca, 889 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1989). Prisoners have one ...

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