State court vacates woman’s sentence

The Pennsylvania Superior Court in an opinion issued last week vacated a prison sentence imposed on a Cambria County woman with a history of drug offenses, finding that the judge who imposed the sentence had no power to do so.

The decision by the state appeals court does not mean that Patricia Hawes, 44, of Johnstown, will be released from prison.

The Superior Court ruled that Hawes case instead fell under the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, not the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas, when it came to her recent sentencings.

An order by Cambria County Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III, who imposed a six-month to

2.5-year sentence on Hawes in December 2016, must be vacated and the case turned over to the Department of Corrections for disposition. A subsequent sentence by the judge issued in February 2017, ordering Hawes to serve the entire 2.5 years, also must be vacated because it was based on an illegal sentence, according to the appeals court opinion written by Judge Carolyn H. Nichols.

The Hawes case began in 2008 when she was sentenced to five years’ probation for forgery.

That probation was revoked in December 2013 because of multiple probation violations between 2008 and 2013.

At that point, she was sentenced to 10 days to five years and was paroled immediately.

According to the Superior Court, the five-year maximum sentence at that point “divested the (county) court of parole authority,” placing any decision for parole in the hands of the state board.

However, the county court maintained supervision in the case, and in 2016, Hawes was charged with new offenses while on parole that included retail theft and delivery of cocaine.

The cocaine charge eventually was transferred to the U.S. District Court in Johnstown, but the retail theft case remained in Cambria County.

In December 2016, Hawes was resentenced for alleged violation of her 10-day to five-year sentence. The judge this time imposed a prison term of 6.5 months to 2.5 years, but then paroled her immediately.

However, she was not freed from prison because she was being held on a detainer stemming from the now-federal cocaine charge.

While in prison awaiting disposition of the cocaine charge, Hawes violated her county court parole order by testing positive for the drug Suboxone.

So, on Feb. 28. 2017, she was once again charged with violation of her parole and sentenced to prison for the remainder of her 2.5-year sentence.

It was this latest sentence that was appealed to

the Superior Court by Ebensburg attorney Timothy S. Burns.

The Superior Court, in a 10-page opinion, vacated Hawes’ 2017 sentence and remanded the case back to Krumenacker with an order to vacate his 2016 sentence, and instructed the judge to commit Hawes

to the Department Corrections for a determination on her multiple parole violations that occurred between 2008 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Hawes entered guilty pleas on July 16 before U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson for the distribution of less than 500 grams of cocaine and for maintaining a residence in Johnstown where the distribution and use of heroin occurred.

She will be sentenced on those charges in December.